Sweet Home Alabama: The Country Music Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd

[Hip-O Records/UMe]

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s iconic Southern rock songs fall victim to haphazard production and self-indulgent performances on this eight-song tribute disc released exclusively through Walmart. Produced by Jay Joyce, the album features Universal Music Group’s roster of country young guns (along with Uncle Kracker) on a series of aesthetically unconnected recordings. Eric Church growls his way through a chunky, riff-heavy take on “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe” that strips the song of its funky groove, while Randy Houser’s aggressive version of “Simple Man” draws more from Shinedown’s popular 2004 cover than from Skynyrd’s original. Ashley Ray is a talented emerging artist, but her “Sweet Home Alabama” transforms the original into an elevator-music version of its former self. The collection’s lone bright spot comes courtesy of Jamey Johnson, whose soulful vocal on “Four Walls of Raiford” longs for release every bit as desperately as late Skynyrd leader Ronnie Van Zant’s original. –Jim Malec

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