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Various Artists

The Music of NASHVILLE Season 2, Volume 2 – 2014 (Big Machine)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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Much like the first season, the Season 2, Vol. 2 "Nashville" soundtrack is marked by another signature angry anthem. In a response to a label drop and request for a rehearsed apology at her Opry induction ceremony (cameo by Brad Paisley as emcee), Hayden Panettiere's character (Juliette Barnes) performs "Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet." While it feels obvious and clichéd, it is still a catchy scorcher.

With a season full of more complex story lines, this collection is not as linear as those previous. As always, the females shine on an album awash with ensemble numbers. Lead actress Connie Britton (Rayna James) has proclaimed herself the weakest singing link in the cast, but she sizzles again here with Panetteire on "He Ain't Gonna Change" and solo on the sexy pedal steel driven "This Time." Country press has deemed Claire Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor) as arguably (you could say inarguably) the best female vocalist. Her lilting soprano is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie. Like McVie, she tackles songs that would lose something in another singer's hands.

The impossibly cute Stella sisters (Maddie and Daphne Conrad) are featured on three songs. Concerns have been voiced about the actors' ability to fulfill their dual roles as singers. The young Canadians recently proved their worth by putting on a very capable performance of "Ho Hey" at the most recent CMA music festival.

The show and musical direction are clearly capitalizing on the pop direction that country has taken. There are no grizzled traditionalists in honky tonks longing for the days of the Hag and Johnny. The only hint of traditional instrumentation here is the aforementioned pedal steel and a brief Cajun laced two step accordion. It's ironic as few producers are more deeply familiar with traditional country than T Bone Burnett.