Sweet Home Alabama: The Country Music Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd
Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd’s influence on present-day country music has long been in evidence; some would say it was cemented when Johnny and Donnie Van Zant (brothers of Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and, respectively, lead singers with the reunited Skynyrd and 38 Special) formed the country duo Van Zant. Now, some of country’s most rock-influenced artists are paying overt homage to the legendary band. Eric Church takes a polished, if overly produced, turn at “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” while Randy Houser’s version of “Simple Man” is a highlight, featuring a moody guitar line every bit as soul-soaked as the original. Randy’s burly voice cracks at all the right moments and evokes Ronnie Dunn’s emotional delivery at times. Shooter Jennings’ grainy voice provides a delightful contrast to the smooth boom-chuck rhythm and guitar lines of “Call Me the Breeze.” The Eli Young Band produces a fist-pounding ruckus on “Gimme Three Steps,” and Jamey Johnson makes “Four Walls of Raiford” his own. There’ll never be another Skynyrd, but this album is proof that the sound of the free bird can still fly.