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‘Country Strong’ Soundtrack Songs – Track-by-Track Review

Gwyneth Paltrow
Scott Garfield

With the movie ‘Country Strong‘ arriving in movie theaters across the nation this weekend, we thought it’d be a good time to round up quick reviews for each of the songs on the accompanying soundtrack. With a star-studded list of performers, including Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and even the film’s star, Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s sure to please country music lovers. Here’s a quick rundown of each track.

Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘Country Strong’:
The record kicks off with the title track, a big, bold, dynamic, anthemic singalong. The main goal may be to establish the struggles the characters are going to endure during the film, and to hint at the inner strength they’ll have to find to overcome those problems. But, really, what everyone needs to know is that Ms. Big Shot Hollywood actress can in fact sing pretty well.

Chris Young and Patty Loveless, ‘Love Don’t Let Me Down’:
The former ‘Nashville Star’ winner joins forces with neo-traditionalist legend Loveless to duet about the importance of romantic trust — an issue the trailer tells us will come up during the movie — over a slightly uptempo track fortified by bracing acoustic guitars.

Sara Evans, ‘A Little Bit Stronger’:
The second single from the ‘Country Strong’ soundtrack finds Evans lending her powerful voice to a hopeful, mandolin-tinged ballad about recovering from a broken heart. The song was co-written by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum.

Garrett Hedlund, ‘Chances Are’:
Turns out Paltrow’s not the only actor taking a shot at singing for ‘Country Strong.’ Hedlund, fresh off a starring role in ‘Tron: Legacy’ (which, through no fault of his, should have been either 20% better or 10% worse) reveals a surprisingly deep and authoritative voice on this stately track, which we wrote about here.

Lee Ann Womack, ‘Liars Lie’:
Womack witnesses some unfaithfulness and once again realizes some universal truths: liars lie, cheaters cheat. Meanwhile, a fiddle and pedal steel run free enough to qualify as duet partners on this heartbreaking mid-tempo lament.

Ronnie Dunn, ‘She’s Acting Single (I’m Drinking Double)’:
Stepping free of his twenty-year partnership with Kix Brooks, Dunn drowns his troubles throughout this depressing but highly catchy tune by ordering double doses as his lover makes eyes at strangers behind his back.

Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘Shake That Thing’:
Well, she’s not shy about this new hobby of hers, is she? Gwyneth invites everyone down to the dance floor with this foot-stompin’, highly danceable ode to Friday night, Patron shots and tight jeans.

Hank Williams, Jr., ‘Thirsty’:
Shocker. Hank Williams singing about drinking over a s— kickin’ country rock-track. Next thing you’re gonna tell me is that fish can swim. It’s darn catchy, and we’re not just saying that cause we’re glad it isn’t that dumb football song.

Faith Hill, ‘Give in to Me’:
Another football commercial theme song veteran weighs in. It’s a rare thing to catch Hill in the recording studio lately, and this lush, sultry bit of understated seduction (reviewed here) promises good things for her upcoming comeback album.

Trace Adkins, ‘Timing Is Everything’:
Adkins, who we last heard humorously documenting barnyard hanky-panky with his randy single ‘Brown Chicken Brown Cow,’ slows things down with an elegant piano ballad talking about how lucky timing has helped him avoid trouble and find the love of his life.

Leighton Meester, ‘Words I Couldn’t Say’:
The star of ‘Gossip Girl’ and, naturally, ‘Country Strong,’ contributes a cover of Rascal Flatts‘ 2006 power ballad. You could say she sounds a bit young to be so wise and wistful about regrets in her romantic life, or you could enjoy her youthful optimism for better days in the future.

Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘Coming Home’:
After one listen to this song — as soon as the big, important string introduction kicks in — it’s pretty clear this track is gonna accompany the big ‘Purple Rain’ style tear-jerking moment of truth scene in the film. Hate to spoil it for you, but it looks like our heroine rises to the occasion.

Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘Me and Tennessee’:
“Baby, we both know it’s gone bad, but think of all the good times we had.” OK, so this is the “we can work it out” song between the film’s romantic leads. Against a panoramic widescreen canvas that sounds as big as the Grand Canyon, McGraw seems to think it’s gonna work out. Paltrow’s having trouble forgetting some of his past transgressions but seems willing to listen. You’ll have to buy a ticket to the movie to find out for sure.

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