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Brooks & Dunn

Reboot – 2019 (Arista Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Brooks and Dunn return with the duo's first studio album in a dozen years. Sort of. That's because they revisit a dozen of their hits (leaving a bunch behind) with contemporary country singers. "Reboot" is a cross between a tribute album and a redo, and overwhelmingly, the idea works. The general idea is that the guest artist will trade lines with Brooks or Dunn.

One could surmise that Brooks & Dunn did this kind of album to introduce these chestnuts in an attempt to expand their fan base. Their talents don't seem to have diminished at all with Brooks maintaining his killer, twangy voice.

It also helps when you have artists like Luke Combs, Ashley MacBryde and Brothers Osborne helping out. Some go out on limbs more than others. We're talking Kacey Musgraves, Brothers Osborne and McBryde. Musgraves excels on "Neon Moon" as does McBryde on "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone." Both tackle the ballads with the requisite emotion needed to power the songs. Musgraves seems to have the knack for making everything sound beautiful with a voice that makes you want to stop and listen. The musical treatment of it, though, is too modern with what sounds like electronic drum beats spoiling it, which is true elsewhere. MacBryde keeps it far more traditional. Brothers O grow creative with a harder-edged "Hard Workin' Man" with T.J.'s killer voice always a thing of beauty.

Lots of credit for Midland doing justice vocally and musically to perhaps B&D's biggest song,"Boot Scootin' Boogie." And LANCO goes out on a limb with a raucous take on "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up For Nothing." Combs stays pretty true to "Brand New Man," which leads off the dozen-song release. Combs has the voice made for these songs. Brett Young gives a very soulful reading to "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You," sounding confident and strong. While Thomas Rhett does okay with a breezy reading of "My Maria," Dunn owns that song (not to mention the writer of the song, the late B.W. Stevenson, who first had a hit with it). And Kane Brown doesn't do much with the closing "Believe."

The songs have stood the test of time. Updated here, perhaps too much at times (think drums beats and electronics as on "Lost and Found," where it overwhelms newcomer Tyler Booth) to give them more of a modern sheen. Too bad because that was not needed. Then again that's what producer Dann Huff is about. Better yet is the twangy, steely guitar and feel of "My Next Broken Heart' with Jon Pardi as the song gallops along.

Modern beats aside at times, Brooks & Dunn give a generally welcome re-introduction of their songs with help from musicians who seem to have the right interpretation.