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Reba McEntire

Reba Duets – 2007 (MCA)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Reba McEntire

From the opening lyrics, it's obvious "Duets" isn't just another Reba McEntire album. For one, LeAnn Rimes begins the singing followed by one vocal heavyweight after another. Vince Gill, Kelly Clarkson, Carole King, Kenny Chesney and Trisha Yearwood help Reba put an unmistakable stamp on each cut. The musicianship is accomplished and sparse, pushing mature, thoughtful lyrics out front. And the vocals are amazing.

Faith Hill and Reba wring every last tearful emotion from "Sleeping With the Telephone." Rascal Flatts weaves a sad tale of love's over on "Faith in Love" while Don Henley and Reba awkwardly attempt to rekindle that old flame. Yet it's the understated, acoustic ballad with Justin Timberlake that steals the album. Aubrey Haynie's haunting mandolin, Rob Ickes' Dobro and a dusting of strings back J.T., who harmonizes for much of the song. When he takes his solo, his sweet, soft tenor is light years removed from the hip-hop Timberlake.

Give credit to McEntire for corralling the egos - including her own - and producing an album with depth, passion and a bunch of great voices.