Country Strong Soundtrack8.01.11 # Soundtrack # 46 Comments
The Country Strong soundtrack. Hold up, has 2011 been designated as some kind of Groundhog Annum? Almost precisely twelve months ago, emerging from the boozy mists of New Year, came the soundtrack to a movie set in the wacky world of country music and featuring one of the stars of Iron Man, with said star daringly tackling vocal duties on some of the soundtrack songs. And now, with January having rolled round once again, what do we find? Only the soundtrack to a movie set in the wacky world of country music and featuring one of the stars of Iron Man, with said star daringly tackling vocal duties on some of the soundtrack songs.
Of course, last time it was an Oscar-winning Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, whereas this time we’re getting Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong, and while GP won’t be replicating the Dude’s achievement and snaring an Oscar for her excursion into country music er, country (to be honest, the Academy members are probably scared of letting get within sniffing distance of a little golden man ever again, lest she creates her own sequel to the Great Teary Tidal Wave of ’99), she sure can carry a tune, as the handful who have seen her barely-recalled karaoke flick Duets can attest.
Folks tend to be as suspicious of actors singing as they are of singers acting, and often with good cause, but the strong vocals Paltrow showcases on the opening title track instantly lift her above such prejudices. Pity then that the song itself is the kind of mid-paced mediocrity that Shania Twain has made a career out of, and, as bad luck would have it, the leading lady of Country Strong is given little of merit to wrap her lungs around. Indeed, album closer Me and Tennessee (penned by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. How ever did he score that gig?) proves far less enjoyable to listen to than it is to try and fashion anagrams out of its title. ‘e’s damn tense, nee? is my favourite so far. Although it only works if you say it in a strange Scottish accent that sounds like Macbeth being played by an actor who has heard a genuine Scottish accent on roughly as many occasions as the rest of us have clapped eyes on a Dodo.
Gwyneth is by no means the sole Country Strong star to get her vocal pipes damp. Tim McGraw helps her out as best he can on the aforementioned Tennessee (though he, obviously, is singer first and an actor second anyhow), while the youthful pair of Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester also horn in on the warbling. The Gossip Girl-star latter proves to be another strong singer, though again she is saddled with a damp squib of drippy country-pop, in the limp shape of Words I Couldn’t Say. It is therefore left to Hedlund to steal the show. Yes, he might have scarcely been able to even speak convincingly in Tron: Legacy, yet here his voice is far richer and older-sounding than expected. His only number, Chances Are, is a mini-pleasure too, not least thanks to some well-placed languid guitar licks.
The rest of the album is filled out with a largely unremarkable set of country numbers. Runt of the litter is maybe Sara Evans’ A Little Bit Stronger – its banal cries of belligerence in the face of a relationship break-up being to I Will Survive what a brick smacked round the skull is to the graceful subtlety of a ninja assassin. And although She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles) is a gem of a song, Ronnie Dunn’s new treatment of the tune just makes you want to listen to Gary Stewart’s original, meaning that the best of the rest of the non-actor’s songs is Lee Ann Womack’s laid-back Liars Lie.
Country Strong Soundtrack (Songs) – Track List
1. Country Strong – Gwyneth Paltrow
2. Love Don’t Let Me Down – Chris Young and Patty Loveless
3. A Little Bit Stronger – Sara Evans
4. Chances Are – Garrett Hedlund
5. Liars Lie – Lee Ann Womack
6. She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles) – Ronnie Dunn
7. Shake That Thing – Gwyneth Paltrow
8. Thirsty – Hank Williams Jr.
9. Give In To Me – Faith Hill
10. Timing Is Everything – Trace Adkins
11. Words I Couldn’t Say – Leighton Meester
12. Coming Home – Gwyneth Paltrow
13. Me And Tennessee – Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow
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