“All Star Duets” by Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time

Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time
All Star Duets
MightyCord Records
4 stars (out of 5)

By Chris Shouse

Wordsmith mogul Larry Cordle has been a heavy hitter with hit songs for decades in Nashville.  The former accountant has contributed to records that have sold more than 55 million copies worldwide since he left his day job to become a full-time musician/songwriter.  His newest release is a “greatest hits” duet album including a dozen A-list country and bluegrass acts who have recorded his work in the past, including Ricky Skaggs (“Highway 40 Blues”), Garth Brooks (“Against the Grain”), Trisha Yearwood (“Lonesome Dove”), Dierks Bentley (“You Can’t Take it With You When You Go”), and Kenny Chesney (“The Fields of Home”).

Unlike a lot of premier Nashville songwriters whose vocal talents make it plain why aren’t out front on stage, the Mighty Cord has been singing in the major leagues with these all stars for quite a while—the tear-jerking throwdown with Terri Clark, “Cure for the Common Heartache.” Cordle’s performances really draw out the personalities of his duet partners, all of whom take full advantage of the opportunity to put their particular spin on these great songs.

The instrumental lineup is also quite stellar—Bryan Sutton, Kristin Scott Benson, Andy Leftwitch, Mike Anglin, Jenee Fleenor, Randy Kohrs, Tim Croutch, Jerry Douglas, Wayne Benson, Chris Davis, and Kim Garner—and the tones and execution of the instruments were superbly captured by Slack Key Studio (Randy Kohrs) and Ben Surratt at Mark Howard’s Signal Path Studio.

Del McCoury (“The Bigger the Fool”) and Travis Tritt (“Rough Around the Edges”) bring the hardcore ‘grass, and Alison Krauss’ reworking of “Two Highways” 25 years after her original version helped make her a teenage superstar is especially satisfying.

“Murder on Music Row,” which is 15 years old now, closes the album with Daryle Singletary and Kevin Denney helping Cordle show that a good country song written for its own sake will always outlast whatever is written to be trendy and marketable.