Various Artists – High Cotton: A Tribute To Alabama

by Chuck Dauphin

alabama-high-cottonThe Hall of Fame group known as Alabama have been in the news quite a bit these days. They are back on tour, and are the subject of two tribute records. A few weeks ago, we talked about the Alabama & Friends project, but they also get some love from the Americana crowd on this collection, which features some top-notch performances from beginning to end.

Leading the way here is J.D. McPherson, whose version of “Why Lady Why” takes the classic in a very soulful direction, and the singer scores with it. The same could be said of the Old Crow Medicine Show’s take on “Dixieland Delight.” While the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry put their own spin on the cut, there’s still enough backwoods charm about it where it is very much recognizable.

Other highlights include Jason Isbell and John Paul White’s moody spin on “Old Flame,” which actually is as traditional sounding as the original, as well as “I Can’t Love You Any Less,” a 1990s album cut performed in fine fashion by the critically acclaimed Amanda Shires. What a voice, and what a performance. Wade Bowen and Brandy Clark team their considerable talents on “Love In The First Degree,” and the album’s definitive performance might very well be the romantic sounds of Elizabeth Cook and Todd Snider on “Feels So Right.” It’s one of Snider’s best performances, and Cook sounds like every bit of the hillbilly angel she is on the track.

At first glance, a group of Americana artists who tend to get glowing reviews with each release paying tribute to an act that was more of a commercial success story might not seem such a likely recipe for success. But, the music of Randy, Teddy, and Jeff continues to influence the masses – after all these years. And, that’s the true mark of greatness, don’t you think?

 

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