Dave Stewart Entertainment [Release date 25.08.17]
Pop, rock – Dave Stewart is a master of both. And his taste in female vocalists, second to none. But his output, even with The Eurythmics was always patchy. More moments of sheer brilliance than you could shake a stick at, but plenty of ‘fillers’ as well. And his post Eurythmics output has been equally mixed.
Nashville Sessions – The Duets, finds him with some of the finest female vocalist on the planet – Stevie Nicks, Alison Krauss, Diane Birch, Colbie Cailat, Joss Stone, Martina McBride and more, and brings together the best duets from the recording sessions for his last three solo releases – The Blackbird Diaries (2011), The Ringmaster General (2012), and Lucky Numbers (2013). The only track here not to feature on those releases, ‘Picnic For Two’ – a Joss Stone duet featured as a bonus track on her own 2011 album, LP1 – itself a Stewart/Stone co-written/produced release featuring the same group of players.
For the trio of albums, Stewart brought together some of Nashville’s finest, and while they featured a good cross section of pop, rock, blues, R&B, and country, The Duets focuses on just one genre – country. Yes, there’s some nice bluesy guitar breaks, gospel backing vocals, and, of course, pedal steel, but the main focus is what you might call ‘traditional’ country duets. The sort you’d associate with the likes of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, as opposed today’s more mainstream collaborations like Kenny Chesney and P!nk.
In that respect, Stewart does a good job of providing the grizzled vocal foil for his eminent guests, who do what they do best. As always with Stewart, the production and playing are spot on, so it comes down to the strength of the songs. And in that respect, I have to say they’re fairly standard ‘period’ fodder for the genre, apart, perhaps from ‘Every Single Night’ featuring Martina McBride which borrows heavily from Madonna’s Holiday.
It’s the musical equivalent of a good coffee table book – pleasant enough for a flick through, and an attention grabber. But are you going to want to own a copy? In the case of The Duets, not unless you’re a traditional country music fan. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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