by: Timothy Bracey
On his tribute to the late, legendary Nashville songwriter Hank Cochran, emerging star Jamey Johnson has recruited a veritable Murderers’ Row of country music greats, including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Emmylou Harris. This is heavy company for anyone to hang with, but the 37-year-old Johnson more than holds his own while duetting with these titans of modern music. “Living For A Song” functions both as a moving elegy and a great introduction to the music of his mentor, with whom he had become close before Cochran’s death in 2010.
Opening track “Make The World Go Away” is a faithful but stunning reading of a timeless classic, with Johnson’s deep and winning tenor harmonizing beautifully with Allison Krauss on the desperate and yearning chorus. Highlights abound — from the Leon Russell-aided “A Way To Survive,” to the surprisingly great back and forth between Johnson and Elvis Costello on “She’ll Be Back,” which easily outdistances anything from Costello’s previous Brit-goes-country exertions.
This is clearly one of the best releases of the year and a fitting tribute to one of the crucial and under-appreciated figures in 20th century American music. “Living For A Song” establishes Jamey Johnson as both a custodian of country music’s finest traditions and a worthwhile creative confederate going forward. It can only be a matter of time before this gifted performer has consecrated a legacy of greatness all his own.
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- “Make the World Go Away” – Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss
- “I Fall to Pieces” – Jamey Johnson and Merle Haggard
- “A Way to Survive” – Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill and Leon Russell
- “Don’t Touch Me” – Jamey Johnson and Emmylou Harris
- “You Wouldn’t Know Love” – Jamey Johnson and Ray Price
- “I Don’t Do Windows” – Jamey Johnson and Asleep at the Wheel
- “She’ll Be Back” – Jamey Johnson and Elvis Costello
- “Would These Arms Be in Your Way” – Jamey Johnson and Red Lane
- “The Eagle” – Jamey Johnson and George Strait
- “A-11” – Jamey Johnson and Ronnie Dunn
- “I’d Fight the World” – Jamey Johnson and Bobby Bare
- “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” – Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson
- “This Ain’t My First Rodeo” – Jamey Johnson and Lee Ann Womack
- “Love Makes a Fool of Us All” – Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson
- “Everything But You” – Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell
- “Living for a Song” – Jamey Johnson, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson