Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack, "Ring of Fire"

A duet between Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack?  Be still, my beating heart!  Two great traditional country voices singing a timeless classic!  One would think the result could be only spectacular.  But oh, the irony!  I like Alan Jackson.  I love "Ring of Fire."  But I don't like Alan Jackson's version of "Ring of Fire."

Why not, you ask?  You may scoff at me for this, but it's the wild guitar riffs that ultimately sink the record for me.  Excuse me, Mr. Guitar Man - I'm trying to listen to Alan sing the song.  Why do you keep piping up with your electric guitar at all the wrong times?  It's very distracting, not to mention grating on the ears.  Still, I have to Alan props for not painstakingly copying the familiar Cash version, even if I do miss hearing those darling mariachi horns.  Unfortunately, the guitar chords don't sound like a reinterpretation so much as a misguided attempt to modernize the song.  Hey, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it!

That combined with the fact that Lee Ann's vocals are scarcely audible during most the song.  It's advertised as a duet, but Lee Ann never gets to sing a verse on her own.  It seems her only purpose is to add commercial appeal by inserting her name in the credits (though she probably doesn't carry as much commercial appeal now as she did a few years ago).

This obviously doesn't hold up against Johnny's classic version, but that would have been extremely unlikely anyway.  The problem isn't that this record is necessarily bad.  The problem is that it sets extremely high expectations, and then it doesn't deliver.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)