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T.G. Sheppard

Legendary Friends and Country Duets – 2015 (Goldenlane Records)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by T.G. Sheppard

Dear Recording Artists of the World;

Please think twice before recording an album of duets. Sure, it sounds like fun, making music together with other artists, almost like friends around a campfire. But in actuality it's always more like a competition than a collaboration. Oh, it's great in those the rare instances where two equal matched singers can harmonize or find a mutual groove - think Conway and Loretta, or Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga - or even Moe and Joe. But usually we just can't help but judge which one sang it better. So unless you're Frank Sinatra or Reba McEntire or someone else sure not to be overshadowed, it's probably not a good idea.

Take T.G. Sheppard's latest. This guy had a bunch of truly great songs in the '70s and '80s, including 15 number 1 hits, before his countrypolitan sound went out of favor. What he never had was a distinctive voice. His baritone was pleasant enough, but there wasn't much to distinguish it from contemporaries like Ronnie McDowell or Eddie Rabbitt. And on an album of duets with people like Crystal Gayle, Merle Haggard and Delbert McClinton, he unfortunately comes across as an overzealous backup singer. Not his fault really, there aren't many vocalists who could hold their own against these all-time greats. It is his fault that though that he didn't realize this was bound to happen. But really all you got to is listen to a song like "Why Me Lord." When the late Conway Twitty sings his part you almost forget how corny this Kris Kristofferson chestnut is, and then T.G. comes in and reminds you. This happens all too often on this album.

And on the songs that should work, where Sheppard sings with someone whose vocal abilities are on a similar echelon - Engelbert Humperdinck or Mickey Gilley - those songs are brought down by pedestrian production.

We hope you understand, we're just trying to save you embarrassment.

Sincerely,

Music Lovers