Brooks and Dunn Reboot, Hit after Hit re-worked, but should it have been left alone?
Brooks and Dunn’s career is something to be marvelled at, 20 number 1 hits to their name, 2 Grammy’s, multi-platinum selling albums including one that’s certified sextuple-platinum and winning every duo of the year award at the CMA’s between 92 and 2006 bar one, it’s no wonder they have just this year been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, is there anyone more deserving? And now this week they are releasing another album Brooks and Dunn Reboot which features duets of their greatest hits sung with today’s top Country stars. I was both sceptical and excited as I removed the CD from it’s sleeve, glancing at the names what’s not to love? Yet should songs as iconic as Aint Nothin Bout You really be messed with or re-recorded?
The album opens with Brand New Man, this actually really suits Luke Combs voice, it’s a great start, though the production has notably been re-worked it keeps in with both Luke’s style and Brooks and Dunn’s. However I was right to question re-working a song such as Aint Nothin Bout You. I like Brett Young, I like his style but changing the production this much to suit him doesn’t sit well with me and when Brooks and Dunn begin singing they also don’t sound that enthusiastic about the new vibe of one of their greatest hits! It’s different and at the end of the day what’s the point in releasing these songs the way they originally sounded however taking that epic guitar solo away and replacing it with a trumpet just doesn’t feel right. Jon Pardi’s attempt on My Next Broken Heart allows me to stop reaching for the off button. This song has kept the Honky Tonk feel the original encapsulated, Jon Pardi’s vocals actually really suit the song despite being less gravelly than Brooks and Dunn’s and the three of them sound good together.
Kacey Musgraves proves in this next song that you can completely change a song to fit your style and not completely ruin it. Neon Moon is a classic which is almost unrecognisable at the start of this version but it would sit well within her album Golden Hour. Her vocals, sweet and smooth shine through and shift emphasis just on how good the lyrics and melodies are in this tune. You hear very little of Brooks and Dunn though in this version and if you’re a fan of theirs and new or indifferent to Kacey’s music I can see why you might not embrace this version. The pedal Steels are crucial to the success of this song though. For me this is the stand out track on the record. Tyler Booth is a newish name to me but he does a good job in Lost and Found, again this is not too dissimilar from the original. I’m not overly impressed with Brothers Osborne’s attempt on Hard Working Man, it is a slightly rockier version of this classic which got to number 4 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It keeps in with the duo’s style by having way too long of a guitar solo and fancy bits added in to it, however if you’re a big fan of these guys music, this song won’t disappoint you.
You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone is unusual in the sense that Brooks and Dunn open this one and it’s star guest Ashley McBryde comes in halfway through the first verse. It’s a beautiful rendition suiting both parties well in an unlikely duet. The next song My Maria Brooks and Dunn team up with Thomas Rhett, I especially like what they’ve done in the bridge for this song but I’m surprised it hasn’t been switched up a little more but I think this duet in particular is a strong addition to the album and represents what they were aiming to do with the project. Successful independent artist Cody Johnson teams up with the duo on Red Dirt Road, a more stripped back version of the 2003 hit. Again his vocals really suit the song and blend well with Brooks and Dunn, The sparse production allows the lyrics room to breathe and that distant pedal steel sound that haunts the best Country songs hammers home the emotion and nostalgia of the song.
Midland do a good job of Boot Scootin Boogie, the five cowboys (3 members of midland plus Ronnie and Kix) just seem to have a whole lot of fun on the honky tonk classic. Another group, Lanco, team up with Brooks and Dunn on the penultimate song Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothin, once again the production is similar to the original complete with cowbell and everything! There are some great demonstrations of how to really play the guitar though but maybe if I make that statement about Lanco, I might have been slightly harsh with Brothers Osborne earlier on in my review! The final track is Believe and it’s Kane Brown who sings on this one, yes Kane Brown who got overlooked by the CMAs despite simultaneously topping all five Billboard Country charts a feat which has never been done before. Well it’s good to see he has the approval of one of the legends in the genre and what a beautiful way to end the record. Kane does a fabulous job, his vocals are flawless, it’s almost like it was written for him, he suits it so well and the echo on his voice is very effective.
To summarise I think it’s a fantastic project, bringing all these artists together to celebrate some of the finest songs written and made successful by one of the legends of the genre. It’s a fresh perspective on some iconic songs which need approaching with an open mind. If you’re a Brooks and Dunn fan on the whole you’ll love this record however there may be some frustrating moments for you when you think “it’s just not as good as the original!”