The best songs on Ronnie Dunn's Re-Dunn album stay true to the originals and his own legacy. There's an unexpected humility to songs like "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)" and the several classic country covers. It's an album filled with surprises.

In most cases, adding his Texahoma twang is enough to separate covers from the original versions of songs by Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Pure Prairie League and Bob Seger. Steel guitar saturates "Wonderful Tonight," but it's still the same song you've heard for decades. Reverb connects Dunn to the Hollies' 1972 hit. In nearly every case, he keeps the most identifying characteristic of the hit — be it Van Morrison's bass and guitar whimsy on "Brown Eyed Girl," the Eagles' soft intro to "Peaceful Easy Feeling" or the inherent sadness at the beginning of "Good Time Charlie's (Got the Blues)," originally performed by Danny O'Keefe.

It's not quite accurate to call this massive 24-song project a covers album. Dunn's Re-Dunn is more of a tribute to the songs that shaped him. Well-known country hits by George Strait, Merle Haggard and Tom T. Hall mix easily with defiant rockers like "I Won't Back Down." Very often he leans into a great riff or guitar lick at the beginning of a song and turns that into a classic Dunn-esque vocal showcase. You may not like Dunn's version of Buck Owens' "Together Again" better than the original, but it's hard to argue that he leveled up the song vocally.

Find three of the must-hear tracks from an almost intimidating collection of songs important to the Country Music Hall of Famer below. Re-Dunn was released on Jan. 10. It's his fourth solo studio album and first since Tattooed Heart in 2016.

George Strait, "A Showman's Life"

George Strait is the most-covered artist on Re-Dunn, and all three songs (including "Amarillo by Morning" and "The Cowboy Rides Away") are exemplary, but this deep cut from Strait's Here for a Good Time (2011) hits hardest. The lesser-known tracks are the real heart of this album, as each was chosen because of some strong connection to Dunn with little regard to how listeners would respond. The album is personal in that way.

Bob Seger, "Against the Wind"

Listen to Dunn's subtle lyric tweak early during this mostly true-to-form cover of the classic rocker's nostalgic love story. He name-checks his wife, which is a pretty smooth move for a guy married 30 years. "Against the Wind" is such a well-written song it's hard to improve, and the vocalist doesn't try to out-sing it. Instead he lets a loose introduction and steel guitar separate his version but keeps the tempo and spirit of a song everyone needs to know.

Eddy Arnold, Ray Charles, Mickey Gilley + Others, "You Don't Know Me"

All three of these men (plus several others) recorded "You Don't Know Me," but Dunn's version falls somewhere between Arnold's original and Charles' prettier pop hit that came six years later, in 1962. Gilley made it a country hit in 1981, and Elvis Presley even took a swing at this Cindy Walker co-write, but this new version is its own thing. Here — finally here — Dunn rearranges a great lyric and adds his prime cut vocals. He simply soars throughout the soulful ballad. Grab a sweater, because when he cries out "You don't know me" at the very end, you'll get chills.

10 Country Hits You Didn't Know Were Covers: 

More From Taste of Country