Songs of the Year

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Songs of the Year’s central idea is almost too simple—a lineup of current stars records new versions of classics that have won Song of the Year honors from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music or Grammys. But Songs of the Year (available only at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and crackerbarrel.com) ends up reminding us of a lesson that never gets old: You can’t go wrong with great singers singing great songs.

All the tunes selected for Songs of the Year richly deserved their awards, and you can hear how pleased the performers are to sink their chops into them. Trace Adkins savors every line of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Randy Travis steps up to the challenge of Vern Gosdin’s “Chiseled in Stone,” and The Wreckers welcome Deana Carter’s 1996 “Strawberry Wine” into the pantheon of classics.

Not every match of singer and song clicks—but for the most part, Songs of the Year proves that simple ideas are sometimes the best ones.

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