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Timeless by Martina McBride

There are plenty of ways to approach making a covers album—you can emphasize the tunes' durability with inventive arrangements, update them to highlight their relevance or pay homage with new versions that hew closely to the originals.

The latter is usually the weakest approach—after all, why bother recreating something we already have? But while Martina McBride takes that very tack on this set of remakes, right down to the vintage string section and echo-laden backup singers, she makes Timeless work like a charm. All she has to do is set one of modern country's greatest voices loose on 18 of classic country's greatest songs and let the sparks fly as they will.

That they do—especially on the ballads, which demonstrate an appealingly sensual side Martina doesn't show very often. Timeless could turn fans of Martina's usual pop-country fare on to some tremendous songs they've never heard, while tickling old-school country fans convinced that everything recorded since 1975 has been worthless. Those of us in between can just savor its timelessness.

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