'Southbound': Some tracks work, others don't

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2014 12:05 PM
'Southbound': Some tracks work, others don't

Collaborations between contemporary country artists and classic rock stars have become commonplace over the years. But the Doobie Brothers, with their accent on catchy choruses, close harmonies and traditional influences, match up particularly well with Nashville stars.

The Doobies' new album, "Southbound," features country stars such as the Zac Brown Band, Sara Evans, Hunter Hayes, Toby Keith and Blake Shelton joining the band on new versions of its best-known songs. However, the tracks were recorded by Nashville studio pros, with the Doobies — Tom Johnston, Michael McDonald, John McFee, Patrick Simmons — and their guests providing lead vocals and harmonies.

The result sounds like what it is: talented folks recording on the fly and reading their parts. The songs come across as pieced together because they were.

A few tracks do gel: Tyler Farr brings a hard-rock edge that works well with the gospel harmonies on "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)," Brad Paisley adds fiery licks to a juiced-up "Rockin' Down the Highway" and Amanda Sudano Ramirez of the indie duo Johnnyswim wails like an old-school soul queen on "You Belong to Me," which features Vince Gill on guitar.

The rest suffers from an emphasis on accommodating budgets and schedules rather than on the inspired spark of artistic collaboration.