As if to reinforce the notion that the music is still the centerpiece of the show, the Season 4 Nashville soundtrack features a generous helping of 17 songs.
As Hayden Panettiere's character Juliette Barnes falls further into destructive post-partum psychosis, her character's story line takes a back seat. Mirroring the situation, she has only one solo number on the album. Elsewhere, she teams up with Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler who charges up a capable version of "Crazy."
Speaking of charging up, the choice to cast Riley Smith as the intriguing temperamental upstart rocker Marcus Keane more than offsets the choice to kill off the devilishly charismatic Oliver Hudson as Barnes's manager. Smith's arena rocker "In The Name Of Your Love" is a standout and would fit in just as as well with an '80s hair band or a '90s grunge rock effort. The other 16 tracks focus on each artist's core musical strengths.
Sam Palladio's Vince Gill-ish high tenor is deftly featured on "Count On Me," a clichéd and overt reference to his jealousy from losing his ex-Scarlett (Claire Bowen) to a young doctor. They reconcile beautifully on the tender ballad "Plenty Far To Fall."
Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus made a cameo appearance last season for a songwriting session with Palladio. He continued his involvement musically on several tracks here. "He's a wonderful musician, and I love his voice," DeMarcus said of Palladio. "It's refreshing to know that (the actors) representing us on the show are authentic."
The show has been pegged as a legit drama to a nighttime soap opera. Whatever it's labeled, it is rooted in capable musicianship.