Reba McEntire's Duets project is either the return of one of the biggest stars country music has ever seen, or an effort to try to regain some of that popularity now that another generation of Nashville musicians has claimed the radio, video, and sales spotlight. Duets is only the second album of new songs by McEntire to appear in the last eight years -- an eternity in Nashville (and being the star of a sitcom doesn't count for much). Her last, Room to Breathe, appeared almost four years ago and spawned the hit "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain," propelling the album to a number four position on the Billboard country chart and a brief stay at 25 in the pop chart. That said, a project like this, with so much hype and expense incurred behind and because of it, demands an artist with staying power and a legacy to fall back on, and she has it: for starts, thirty number one singles. As for Duets, there is no shortage of star power, and it's multi-generational in terms of the world of pop music. On one side are contemporary country superstars like Kelly Clarkson -- the album's first single, "Because of You," written when Clarkson was 16 years old, has blown up. Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Ronnie Dunn, Faith Hill, and LeAnn Rimes are also here. So are major, near-legendary talents like Trisha Yearwood and Vince Gill (it's odd to think of Gill as an elder statesman of country, but in a 30-year career that's what he is), who also have active, busy careers and hit the charts whenever they release material. Then there are the "others," those songwriters who do not fit the country mold but are welcome presences here: Carole King (one of the greatest songwriters ever) and Don Henley appear on two of the most successful tracks in the set. Finally, there's the rogue outsider who is simply a pop superstar: Justin Timberlake. (If you roll your eyes at what he's doing here, you're right: he had an inside connection since his business partner dates McEntire's daughter.) As for the quality of the tracks -- since most music biz projects like this crash and burn after a few weeks or upon getting trounced by critics -- this one is a mixed bag, but in a good way. McEntire's performance with Rimes on "When You Love Someone Like That" is stellar. The co-written duet between the flaming redheaded country diva and Ronnie Dunn, "Does the Wind Still Blow in Oklahoma?" is an honest to goodness country song, and works as much because of the high lonesome in Dunn's beautiful baritone as it does the headliner's act. "Because of You" may be the hit, but the song is simply a big, overblown power ballad with guitars compressed to the breaking point, sweeping strings, and enormous crashing cymbals -- think Jim Steinman and you get it. (Not that Tony Hit Man Brown's a whole lot different in his own genre, but this could have been a Meat Loaf reject from Bat out of Hell II). A similar problem plagues "Faith in Love" with Rascal Flatts. It's got what it takes for radio, no doubt about it, but it's a song everybody will be sick of sooner rather than later. Things get back on track with "She Can't Save Him," with Yearwood, who is simply a class act as a stylist, and a woman who never over-sings. It's a lilting piano ballad-turned-big number but Yearwood and McEntire are very suited to one another as singing partners. McEntire has great control, and Yearwood has the amazing ability to be a musical chameleon. It would have been lovely to have a Carole King-written number for the occasion of this duet. That said, however, the newly acquired graininess in King's amazing voice is a fine contrast on this pop-country song that rocks it up enough to stretch McEntire. "Every Other Weekend" with Chesney is somewhat underwhelming. Either of them could have pulled this one off alone (you can hear Chesney making this one truly believable), but together, there's a kind of distance in the voices that all of the strings in Brown's world couldn't make gel. Things work a whole lot better with Gill who, like Yearwood, can sing with anyone and allows himself to become whatever he's signing. As a result, both singers sound wonderful on "These Broken Hearts" and McEntire delivers one of those extremely moving performances she's built her well-deserved career on. It's for a Gill-Pete Wasner tune, and it was perhaps written for this session, but nonetheless, she just nails it, and in his support role as a singing partner, Gill rises to the level put forth by McEntire, and this is one of those broken love songs kissed by Steve Nathan's B-3 and the sweet backing vocals of Ashley Cleveland, Judson Spence, and Kim Keyes that can't miss with the strange bridge and chorus with its ghostly backdrop. "Sleeping with the Telephone" with Hill works just as you think it might: like a charm. Great singing, emotional performances and Dann Huff's addition to the production team of McEntire and Brown on this track saves it from the excess that might have plagued it. It feels natural, polished, and utterly true. The choruses are stirring enough to bring goose bumps. "The Only Promise That Remains," with Timberlake, was written with Matt Morris and is maybe a tad longer than it should be at over five minutes. But that's a small complaint. It's a solid song: acoustically based with some Celtic flavor, and written for the strengths in McEntire's voice (and Brown could learn something about using strings from Timberlake.) Here they don't overpower, they accent the song, and the cello fills are an excellent touch as are the dobro by Rob Ickes and upright bass by Glenn Worf. Timberlake contents himself to sing harmony rather than take solo verses; but that's more about serving the song than about not being able to sing. It's a welcome surprise here. Finally, Henley and McEntire close with "Break Each Other's Hearts Again." And although Henley can write, he doesn't do it well here, which is too bad. He's a great singer when he wants to be, especially as a harmonist. He's superb in that role, and he delivers his verses with conviction and a tawdry elegance that fits the song like a glove. McEntire can really sing with Henley. They were in the same room when it was recorded and the chemistry is right there. The band here should be mentioned, too, since Henley is in familiar company with a rhythm section of drummer Russ Kunkel and bassist Leland Sklar. McEntire's fans will eat this up, and perhaps those of Timberlake and Clarkson and Hill will, too. It's not a perfect record by any means, but it doesn't need to be; it simply has to deliver, and it does more often than not. Whether or not it turns a new generation of fans on to McEntire will remain to be seen, but this feels like anything but a cynical effort. It's sincere, it's polished, and it's full of good to great songs delivered in mostly interesting ways.
Performance CreditsReba McEntire Primary Artist
Ashley Cleveland Background Vocals
Matt Rollings Piano,Hammond Organ,Hammond B3
Judson Spence Background Vocals
Michael Thompson Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Curtis Wright Background Vocals
Paul Franklin Pedal Steel Guitar
Rob Ickes Dobro
John Jarvis Piano
Russ Kunkel Drums
Paul Leim Drums
Jay Dee Maness Steel Guitar
JayDee Mannes Pedal Steel Guitar
Chris McHugh Drums
Greg Morrow Drums
Nashville String Machine Strings
Steve Nathan Hammond Organ,Hammond B3
Dean Parks Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Jimmie Lee Sloas Bass,Bass Guitar
Pete Wasner Piano
Glenn Worf Bass,Bass Guitar,Upright Bass
Aubrey Haynie Fiddle,Mandolin
Kim Keyes Background Vocals
Jimmy Nichols Synthesizer,Hammond B3
Leland Sklar Bass,Bass Guitar
Jay DeMarcus Bass,Bass Guitar
Tom Bukovac Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Ilya Toshinsky Acoustic Guitar
Alyssa Park Strings
Matt Morris Background Vocals
Caroline Buckman Strings
Section Quartet Strings
Amy Wickman Strings
Jenifer Wrinkle Background Vocals
Gre Morrow Drums
Technical CreditsSkip Ewing Composer
Reba McEntire Composer,Producer,Audio Production
John Wiggins Composer
Craig Allen Art Direction
Jeff Balding Engineer
Derek Bason Engineer
Tony Brown Producer,Audio Production
Ronnie Dunn Composer
Ben Fowler Engineer
Vince Gill Composer
Larry Gold String Arrangements,String Conductor
Mark Hagen Engineer
Connie Harrington Composer
Dann Huff Producer,Audio Production
Kyle Lehning Engineer
Don Rollins Composer
Pete Wasner Composer
Bergen White String Arrangements,String Conductor
Jon Randall Composer
Chuck Ainlay Engineer
Jay DeMarcus Composer
Karyn Rochelle Composer
Justin Timberlake Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Mike Butler Engineer
Joe Don Rooney Composer
Gary LeVox Composer
Tommy Harden Composer
Kelly Clarkson Composer
Jeff Rothschild Engineer
David Hodges Composer
Matt Morris Composer
Ben Moody Composer
Jeff Kersey Engineer
Liz Hengber Composer
Amy Garges Audio Production
Narvel Blackstock Management
Chris Bell Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reba Duets based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
This isn't merely a superior CD featuring Reba, whose voice is still the best in country music, it's a superior CD that's a credit to every artist she's teamed with. The emotion-filled duets with Ronnie Dunn and Kenny Chesney in particular tug at the heartstrings, but this long-time country music fan was surprisingly blown away by her duet with Justin Timberlake. To the magazine writer who felt the Timberlake song was a tad too long---NOT SO. In "Reba Duets" Reba sings well with every featured artist and every featured voice melds well with hers. Reba fans should rush out and buy "best of" CDs from the other artists, too. Six stars to ALL!
This CD is unbelievable. I purchased it because of the Reba/Kelly Clarkson duet but I have found every duet to be a winner. You won't be disappointed.
Omigosh, Reba is the best singer ever and I was looking forward to this cd SOOOOO much...and it is so good I listen to it all time. The song "Everyday People" is personally my favorite from the cd!
Wow, what wonderful music on this CD. I bought because I'm a HUGE fan of both Kelly Clarkson, and Carole King (since the 70's), and now that I have heard all the songs, I am now hooked on Reba. The harmony as she interacts with each singer is amazing...each in it's own way.
This is a wonderful CD! Every song is beautifully done and has a message or tells a story. I've listened to it many times since purchasing on the release date. Reba is a classic and this CD is one of her best yet.
Reba's latest Duets CD is out of this world! Though all are good, my favorite is with Rascal Flatts. Highly recommend purchasing this CD.
Even if you're not a country music fan you can still appreciate the effort and heart that Reba Mcentire and Faith Hill put into a new song on Reba's brand new album Duets!!!!!! ( Sleeping with the Telephone) I know you've heard most of the songs about please come home and from a man's perspective of being a soldier and called to duty but this song with two huge hitters in the music biz sheds new light on what its really like for us military wives/girlfriends/fiance you could even put yourself in the position of mother/sister. Never has one song been so universal yet so personal at one time!!!!
Some artists have a song or two on an album or two that makes them a "star". But I have never heard a Reba McEntire song that i didn't adore! This C.D. is no exception. Ecxellent song choices, flawless delivery, and heartfelt emotion drive this album to be the best CD I have heard all year! I did not know which songs would be singles because they were all performed at such a high level, and McEntire's down-to-Earth, kind personality shine through as every listener believes that Reba is singing just to them. If you do not buy this album, you will wish you had!
She is one star that recieves five stars in my book!
I was pleasantly surprised with this cd. I'm not a Reba fan, but I bought this cd because of the artists that she partnered with. I particularly like the duets with Chesney, Hill, King and surprisingly with Timberlake. Worth the buy.
I found that most of the songs on the disc were not really duets, but more like "harmony vocals". It is an extremely well done CD but I was expecting more from it. I just did not feel the potential and expectation was fulfilled. I LOVE Reba, and was so looking forward to this CD. I was just disappointed.