You Can’t Make Old Friends by Kenny Rogers

For his first country album since 2006, Kenny takes on a diverse array of musical styles, from Cajun to folk and his everlasting forte, straight-up country ballads. And he slides into each genre with incredible ease and comfort, proving that the redoubtable Mr. Rogers is still one of the most versatile and accomplished vocalists around.

This would be notable just for the exquisite duet with “old friend” Dolly Parton on the title track. But there is considerably more to savor, especially the Louisiana-flavored “Don’t Leave Me in the Night Time,” featuring the legendary Buckwheat Zydeco on his signature squeezebox, and “’Merica,” a downright spiritual number uplifted to ethereal heights by a stunning backing choir. Kenny’s at his soulful best on “Look at You,” a romantic ballad somewhat reminiscent of “Lady” in style and melody.

But his raspy vocal also fits perfectly with the folky “It’s Gonna Be Easy Now,” complete with sprightly mandolin, and “Turn This World Around,” where the guitars freely crank away.

You have to give Kenny a ton of credit for being willing to spread his wings in new directions—and even more for pulling it off.  

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