sun 25/10/2020

CD: Lionel Richie - Tuskegee | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lionel Richie - Tuskegee

CD: Lionel Richie - Tuskegee

Country road: previously floundering Eighties star finds the style he's been looking for

Richie: mighty glad he stayed

When an artist releases an album of new readings of old material, there’s usually cause for concern. But not with Lionel Richie’s new release, a foray into light country. In fact, given Richie’s recent efforts to stay down with the kids, maybe he should have tapped his archive before. Here he’s teamed up with (mainly) young country stars to rework his greatest hits with an Alabama radio pulse.

When an artist releases an album of new readings of old material, there’s usually cause for concern. But not with Lionel Richie’s new release, a foray into light country. In fact, given Richie’s recent efforts to stay down with the kids, maybe he should have tapped his archive before. Here he’s teamed up with (mainly) young country stars to rework his greatest hits with an Alabama radio pulse. The arrangements may sound crisp and contemporary, but the real fun comes from wallowing in the past and remembering Lionel’s evergreen Eighties.

There are a couple of hiccups. But just that. One of those is the closer, “Angel”, with non-country star Pixie Lott. At the other end of the album is “You Are” with Blake Shelton. More or less everything in between is bound to put a smile on your face. This album follows a current Stateside trend for making over pop songs with light-country melodrama. The key is to keep it low key. And there’s nothing more relaxed than this album’s highlight: Willie Nelson’s practically recumbent contribution to “Easy” which deserves to be on a constant loop in dive bars all across the Deep South.

In fact the arrangements never stumble. Nor do they really depart far from the original. “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “All Night Long” give alternate, and tasteful, infectious takes on Richie’s post-Commodores exuberance, miles away from any Hayseed Dixie-style parody. Even “Hello” manages to find just the right tone of knowingness until almost the last minute when it, unfortunately, turns into a power-ballad.

Of course, every song is a duet, and there are moments when you are left wondering how much the second voice adds, but Lionel’s vocals are silken throughout. As one of the nicest figures in pop, for years it’s been hard not to feel bad for him, hearing song after song of music totally inappropriate to his age. With Tuskegee he may just have found the style he was looking for.

Get a taste of Tuskegee's country flavour

The real fun comes from wallowing in the past and remembering Lionel’s evergreen Eighties

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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