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Various Artists

One Voice – 1996 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Various Artists

A country CD for the Olympics sounds like a great way to showcase an original American art form to the rest of the world, but unfortunately, this disc is country only in name, not spirit. The main problem is Michael Omartian, the album's producer and arranger, whose credits include Michael Bolton, Donna Summer and Whitney Houston. Despite the assemblage of great artists on this disc, under Omartian's guidance it turns into a collection of pop sap. In fact, the major instruments here are not fiddle and steel, but violin, piano, and synthesizer. The songs, although mostly written by country songwriters, are mostly just failed attempts to be deep and inspiring. It's not a completely miserable album, though. Hearing Nanci Griffith and Raul Malo sing together, along with Donna Summer, on a multilingual version of "From a Distance" is interesting, and Willie Nelson and Marty Stuart make "We Must Believe in Magic" sound a bit like a Highwaymen song. If this album is what the world thinks of when it thinks "country music," though, fear for our future.