Since hitting store shelves six months ago, the Country Strong soundtrack has reaped award nominations and a radio hit, key indicators that this album is worth even more attention than it has been getting from radio and fans.
This week the RCA Nashville release is hanging firmly at No. 7 on the Country albums chart. According to Soundscan, it has sold 246,000 units, boosted by the movie’s recent DVD release.
As a whole, the album offers some of the best music to come out of Nashville in recent memory—a stellar showcase for the genre’s best songwriting, artists and producers.
The project’s most lauded song, “Coming Home,” garnered well-deserved Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Taken literally or as a metaphor for heaven, it’s a finely crafted work by A-list tunesmiths Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges. Byron Gallimore’s production is a lush landscape for actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s emotional delivery:
The world tried to break me/I found a road to take me home
There ain’t nothing but a blue sky now
After all of my running/I’m finally coming home
Maybe radio wasn’t willing to invest loads of airplay in the soundtrack singles sung by film star Paltrow because programmers knew she likely wasn’t sticking around the country world past the life of the project. But her vocals are more than adequate, especially when backed by Vince Gill’s harmonies on the title track, and when dueting with movie co-star Tim McGraw on “Me and Tennessee.”
Sara Evans’ cut on the album, “A Little Bit Stronger,” reached No. 1 on the singles chart this week, gaining traction as the lead single from her new album. It is just the latest in a string of hits from the golden guitars of Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Hillary Scott.
Chris Young’s traditional stylings and Patty Loveless’ Kentucky-bred twang shine on “Love Don’t Let Me Down.” Like Loveless, the cherished voices of Lee Ann Womack, Faith Hill and Hank Williams Jr. escaped hiatus and made it into the studio for the album.
Ronnie Dunn fans will be excited to hear another preview of his solo work on “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles).” Trace Adkins gives a authentic take on “Timing Is Everything” by Natalie Hemby and Troy Jones.
Even the film’s supporting cast members fare well on the album. Garrett Hedlund’s gruff vocals on “Chances Are” are a standout on a sobering song from Nathan Chapman, Lori McKenna, and Liz Rose. Leighton Meester gives a heartfelt performance on “Words I Couldn’t Say.”
Nestled among the melancholy laments are good-time party anthems “Shake That Thing,” and “Thirsty.”
The collection hits all of country music’s high notes, covering with grace the struggles of sorrow and self-doubt, drinking and cheating, lost love, hope, heaven and home.
1. Gwyneth Paltrow – “Country Strong”
(Jennifer Hanson/Tony Martin/Mark Nesler) Produced by Byron Gallimore
2. Chris Young & Patty Loveless – “Love Don’t Let Me Down”
(Marv Green/Troy Olsen) Produced by James Stroud
3. Sara Evans – “A Little Bit Stronger”
(Luke Laird/Hillary Lindsey/Hillary Scott) Produced by Tony Brown
4. Garrett Hedlund – “Chances Are”
(Nathan Chapman/Lori McKenna/Liz Rose) Produced by Frank Liddell and Luke Wooten for Carnival Productions
5. Lee Ann Womack – “Liars Lie”
(Sally Barris/Morgane Hayes/Liz Rose) Produced by Frank Liddell and Chuck Ainlay for Carnival Productions
6. Ronnie Dunn – “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Double)”
(Wayne Carson Thompson) Produced by Ronnie Dunn
7. Gwyneth Paltrow – “Shake That Thing”
(Mark Irwin/Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins) Produced by Byron Gallimore
8. Hank Williams, Jr. – “Thirsty”
(Dallas Davidson/Rhett Akins/Brett Eldredge) Produced by Michael Knox
9. Faith Hill – “Give in to Me”
(Billy Falcon/Rose Falcon/Elisha Hoffman) Produced by Jay Joyce
10. Trace Adkins – “Timing Is Everything”
(Natalie Hemby/Troy Jones) Produced by Kenny Beard
11. Leighton Meester – “Words I Couldn’t Say”
(Gregory Becker/Tammi Kidd/Steve Robson) Produced by Nathan Chapman
12. Gwyneth Paltrow – “Coming Home”
(Bob DiPiero/Tom Douglas/Hillary Lindsey/Troy Verges) Produced by Byron Gallimore
13. Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow – “Me and Tennessee”
(Chris Martin) Produced by Byron Gallimore, Tim McGraw, and A. Martin