The Chain

Deana Carter

Vanguard, 2007

REVIEW BY: Elizabeth Crowder


Deana Carter is arguably one of the most classic voices in true country music. While many have gone the pop route (Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the like), Carter has consistently stayed true to her bluegrass roots. Her most recent album, The Chain, is a tribute to her legendary guitarist father, Fred Carter Jr. Father and daughter work together in this album, which includes guest vocalists like Dolyl Parton, Willie Nelson, George Jones, and Kris Kristofferson.

I happen to love country music and appreciate most how this entire album brings the past back to light. Carter has such a clear voice that she is able to pull off songs like "Help Me Make It Through The Night," which includes vocals from Kristofferson. "I'm Not Lisa" is a heartbreaking hit song by Jessi Colter, the wife of the late Waylon Jennings, who sings with Carter to bring a new angle to her old classic.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Good Hearted Woman" continues the family affair as a duet with Waylon's son Shooter Jennings. Carter's voice clashes slightly with Jennings', comparably to how she sounds along with Willie Nelson in "On The Road Again," but the sound resonates as true country with the discrepancy. In fact, few of the old school country songs featured the perfectly manufactured couplings we are accustomed to hearing in current music. George Jones proves this further in "He Still Thinks I Care," as his gravelly bass does not exactly pair with Carter's crisp soprano, but in a way, it is so wrong that it becomes right.

The Chain was produced and arranged all by Carter, and also includes three solos like "Crying," an old Roy Orbison song from 1962. "Old Man" is another solo that Carter revamps, and was originally recorded by Neil Young. The classic Neil Young version of this song was recently played at the late actor Heath Ledger's memorial service in Los Angeles.  With lyrics like "I've been first and last; look at how the time goes past. But I'm all alone at last, rollin' home to you," you can tell why anyone would choose to have this as a background to someone moving on.

I think the reason this album works so well is not just the amazing vocals and guitar work by Deana and Fred Carter. All of these songs are either recognizable or vaguely familiar, but this is far more than just a cover album. Between the legendary guest vocalists and Carter's specific choice of songs it is tough to listen to another 'best of' album. Nothing can compare to the originals, but in this case The Chain is a strong contender to becoming a classic.

Rating: A-

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