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Oh "Crazy Heart," what have you started? Last year, Jeff Bridges earned unanimous critical acclaim as a down-on-his-luck country singer who falls for a younger woman.
This year's entry in the country music pseudo-biopic genre is Shana Feste's "Country Strong," the story of a fallen country music star (Gwyneth Paltrow) who gets involved with a young singer (Garrett Hedlund) and hits the road with her ex-husband/manager (Tim McGraw). Wanna guess what the soundtrack consists of?
The soundtrack to Shana Feste's romantic triangle drama could double as Country Music 101, with outlaw country, country pop, country rock and cry-in-your-beer ballads all represented.
Recalling Bridges' four musical contributions to the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack, this album combines professional singers like Faith Hill and Hank Williams Jr. with the film's protagonists. And while Leighton Meester's cover of Rascal Flatts' "Words I Couldn't Say" falls, um, flatts, Paltrow and "TRON: Legacy" star Garret Hedlund admirably hold their own.
The former contributes four songs, including the country rock of "Shake That Thing," the sweet ballad "Coming Home" and the title track (which you can see her perform at the CMAs here), while Hedlund delves deep into traditional country to lament about the "girl of no importance and a shot of whiskey sitting on the bar." This isn't the first time Paltrow has ripped the mic. The actress scored an No. 1 hit in Australia for her cover of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" with Huey Lewis for the 2000 film "Duets."
As for the professionals, Trace Adkins' fiddle ballad "Timing is Everything" stands as an album highlight, while Hank Williams Jr. does what Hank Williams Jr. has been doing for 30 years: sing-shouting honky-tonk songs about whiskey and partying ("Thirsty"). Though it being country music, there has to be at least one clever title, provided here by Ronnie Dunn's cover of Gary Stewart's "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Double)."
But it's veteran singer Lee Ann Womack who gets the prize for "Liars Lie," 2010's best song to listen to while getting drunk in a bar after catching your longtime significant other in bed with someone else. The slow tempo. The slide guitar. The woeful vocals. Pure country.
1. Country Strong - Gwyneth Paltrow
2. Love Don't Let Me Down - Chris Young and Patty Loveless
3. A Little Bit Stronger - Sara Evans
4. Chances Are - Garrett Hedlund
5. Liars Lie - Lee Ann Womack
6. She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Double) - Ronnie Dunn
7. Shake That Thing - Gwyneth Paltrow
8. Thirsty - Hank Williams Jr.
9. Give In To Me - Faith Hill
10. Timing Is Everything - Trace Adkins
11. Words I Couldn't Say - Leighton Meester
12. Coming Home - Gwyneth Paltrow
13. Me And Tennessee - Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow