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Alabama

Alabama & Friends – 2013 (Show Dog - Universal label)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Alabama

It's a little ironic to recall how the band Alabama were once considered a little too slick in some quarters, back when they first made their mark on the scene in 1980. Yet the music on this new all-star tribute with two new songs from Alabama finds many of these mainstream artists sounding more country than ever with some of their covers.

It's tough to pick just one favorite because this album is so consistently satisfying, but it always does the heart good to hear Kenny Chesney really dig into a ballad the way he does it, so slowly and thoughtfully, on Lady Down on Love. It's also a treat to hear a feminine perspective on an Alabama song, which happens with Trisha Yearwood's cover of Forever's as Far as I'll Go. Yearwood's a singer we just don't hear enough of these days, so her contribution is particularly treasured.

In the end, though, it's the quality of the material that makes this collection shine so bright. Luke Bryan may be the talk of the town in country music these days, but his version of Love in the First Degree doesn't top the original. Perhaps the most appropriate artist/song match is I'm In a Hurry (And Don't Know Why) from Florida Georgia Line. For this duo, life must be moving extremely fast right now, and the lyrics to this particular tune likely describe their lives to a tee. The irony of a band with two state names in its moniker (Florida, Georgia), covering a song by another state-named-band, (Alabama), is not lost.

Best of all, it's good to hear how Alabama has made a significant and lasting impact upon today's country music stars and is not just a very popular group from back in the day.