Various Artists, "The Best of Me" Soundtrack (EMI Nashville/Relativity)
True love songs are rare these days on country music radio. But romance rules on the soundtrack of "The Best of Me," based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, the king of sentimental relationship tales. Mirroring past Sparks page-to-screen love stories — "The Notebook," ''A Walk to Remember," ''Safe Haven" — "The Best of Me" gives a long list of young contemporary country and pop singers a chance to celebrate passion and everlasting love.
For the most part, the performers all make the best of these heart-searching songs. Colbie Caillat turns in a goose bumps-raising performance on "In Love Again," as does newcomer Phoebe Hoffman on "Crossroads." The blended voices of Lady Antebellum ("I Did With You," ''Falling for You") and Thompson Square ("Borrowed Time") sound well-suited for songs about the power of togetherness. Similarly, the Eli Young Band proves adept once again at exploring the sensitive side of bonding on "Unchanged."
The album suddenly shifts in tone by slipping in an old Cowboy Junkies cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." The late-night, low-fi mood of the 26-year-old recording remains effective, but it comes across like a goth kid crashing an Up With People party. A little darkness around the edges doesn't damper the prevailing idea that love can make any of us sing its praises.