Various Artists

God's Country: George Jones and Friends

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Contrary to the title of this 2006 album, God's Country is certainly not a gospel album; any album that boasts two songs celebrating the joys of liquor ("White Lightning" and "Beer Run") could not be considered gospel. Contrary to the artist credit, God's Country is not a duets album between George Jones and a bunch of very special guests. The Possum only sings on two of the ten tracks on this set -- the previously released Garth Brooks duet "Beer Run," plus the swaggering title track, a new recording that's an infectious pro-America anthem, not a gospel tune. The rest of the record finds a variety of Nashville veterans covering some of George's greatest hits. There are no great surprises in terms of song selection -- "She Thinks I Still Care," "White Lightning," and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" are all here -- and the arrangements are faithful as well, as are most of the performances. Some of the cover versions are better than others -- Vince Gill pours his heart into "She Thinks I Still Care," Tanya Tucker invests "The Window Up Above" with her maverick strut -- and some fall a bit flat (Sammy Kershaw's "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is too mannered and affected), but at no point is God's Country unlistenable. It's professional and respectful, at times spirited, yet it's hard to tell for whom exactly this album is intended: it's billed as a George Jones release, yet he barely shows up here, which means it will not satisfy his fans, nor is this quite a tribute album designed to introduce his music to new listeners via interpretations by today's stars (after all, the singers on this record aren't exactly burning up the charts today). So, God's Country doesn't seem to fall into any specific niche -- but for those who do stumble upon the record, they'll find some good music here, along with some competent but not compelling readings of some of George's biggest hits.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
blue highlight denotes track pick