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Mary Sarah

Bridges – 2014 (Cleopatra)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Mary Sarah

Every artist has that dream duet they'd love to perform. They're fans too and long to share the stage with the very artists who helped to inspire their dreams and while it happens for some, it's surely not enough. And with that being the case, newcomer Mary Sarah needs to count her blessings as her debut record, "Bridges," finds the artist trading duets with a virtual "who's who" of country music greats.

She's no stranger to performing, having been singing in public since the age of eight and growing her resume when The Oak Ridge Boys saw one of her YouTube videos and invited her to perform alongside them. Soon, she and her mother made the move from Galveston, Texas to Nashville to begin the recording process with some of music's best.

"Bridges" is a 13-song collection that boasts 12 powerful duets of classic country and old school pop songs. The arrangements are held fairly faithful to the originals, and Sarah consistently steps to the plate and swings for the fences, connecting far more than missing on tracks like "Jolene" with Dolly Parton, "Crazy," with Willie Nelson and "Heartaches By the Number" with the late Ray Price.

Merle Haggard joins the 18-year-old for a rousing rendition of "The Fightin' Side of Me" and Sarah and Tanya Tucker shine on "Texas (When I Die)," the two voices melding together beautifully while Vince Gill joins the artist for a poignant cut of "Go Rest High On That Mountain." Interestingly enough, Sarah also joins up with Neil Sedaka for "Where The Boys Are," a track that showcases her crossover flair and her appreciation for a diverse set of sounds, and she nails it as she does on the lone solo song, a cover of "I'm Sorry."

Sarah does struggle with a few tracks, her take on "What a Difference You've Made in My Life" with Ronnie Milsap feels a little strained and "Rose Garden" with Lynn Anderson just doesn't pack the same punch but with those few stumbles aside, Mary Sarah's debut shows glimmers of great hope for country's future, an artist with an appreciation for the past and the talent and passion to preserve those traditions, bringing them into the present.