For fans of individual characters on the ABC series Nashville -- where actors actually perform the songs in the show -- Big Machine's series of character-driven albums makes perfect sense. While it's true that all of the songs that Hayden Panettiere performed as Juliette Barnes have been issued on the series' four individual soundtracks, this nine-song set collects only those she performed in season two. This is a smaller representation than the 15 that appeared on her volume from season one, but to be fair, there are more cast members now. The growth and transition of Panettiere's character is born out well by the music, where the character is struggling to balance what it means to be true to herself as an artist with what she -- and her record company -- have created for mass consumption. Highlights on this second volume include an acoustic version of "Hypnotizing"; a sultry, steamy rocker entitled "Dreams" sung with Jonathan Jackson (who plays Avery Barkley); the militant, modern country-pop-rock "Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet"; and "He Ain't Gonna Change," a ringing, open duet with Connie Britton's character, Rayna James. Given the sheen, polish, and attention to detail Buddy Miller put into the songs on this particular set -- and the extent to which the tracks, performances, and production are geared toward contemporary country radio -- it's a wonder that none of them made the charts individually. Panettiere may be first and foremost an actress, but she takes these songs and delivers them as if they really were her own and does at least as fine a job as other recording artists who appear regularly on radio playlists.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek