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Reba McEntire - Duets 
By: Jolene Downs, CSO Contributing Journalist  

What can you do for your next project to make it special when you've already released 29 albums, sold millions of records, can boast 33 number one singles and have received just about every award there is in the industry? If you are Reba McEntire, you get on the phone and call a few of your friends to come sing with you. The result of those phone calls is an exceptional Duets album with a who's who of artists on the roster. This is an album I've enjoyed immensely from the very first listen. When I read the back of the case to see who all the guest artists were, I wasn't so sure that it would be something I liked.

Justin Timberlake just didn't seem like someone I'd expect to find on a country release, but their song turned out to be one of my favorites. Timberlake co-wrote a beautiful Celtic love song called "The Only Promise That Remains" and their voices blend together into one of the best ballads I've heard in ages. 

Kelly Clarkson and Reba met back on Clarkson's American Idol days and really hit it off. They also did an episode of Crossroads (CMT) together singing each other's songs. That is actually where the smash hit, "Because of You," came from. It was a song co-written by Clarkson and when Reba heard it, she knew it had to be on the album. They had actually recorded something different and pulled it to make room for this one. 

There are eleven tracks on this album and every one of them is a solid contribution. I could see every one of them holding their own as a single release. "Everyday People" with Carol King had some thought provoking lyrics about a variety of things including college kids who go to help build houses on spring breaks to the single mom who is fighting cancer and her friends rally to help her with bills and kids. 

"Every Other Weekend" with Kenny Chesney touches on an all too common scenario today with sharing custody of the kids and wondering where things went wrong. Why aren't they a family anymore? 

I really enjoyed "Faith In Love" with Rascal Flatts. They have such a fun and distinctive sound that blends so well with Reba. The song is about two people who love each other but understand their hearts are destined for separate paths. It is a very sad song, but refreshing in the adult handling of the situation. No recriminations and no blame, just goodbye. 

Other artists that you will find in this terrific album are Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ronnie Dunn, LeAnn Rimes, Vince Gill and Don Henley. I think bringing the artists into the studio to record with Reba plays a major part in what makes this album special. 

There is a certain magic involved when personalities play off of each other while singing. So often in the recording process today, the duet partners record their parts solo, many times on opposite ends of the country, then the parts are spliced together for the finished product. Reba said that she had fun playing hostess and for her, having everyone in studio covered a couple of bases. Not only did they capture that spark while singing together, but she was able to bring in the food and see some friends that she otherwise doesn't have a chance to see very often. In any case, whatever they did worked and this is an excellent album all the way around. It definitely has a place in my top 10 favorite releases for the year. 

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