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Your Money and My Good Looks by Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent

While country elder Gene Watson has been quietly and determinedly plying his traditionalist trade on small independent labels, Rhonda Vincent has built a bluegrass empire over the last decade by focusing her considerable talents on purebred acoustic fare. The two met on equal ground during an unplanned Opry duet in 2007 and later joined forces to make one of the best-sounding traditional country albums of 2011.

The album’s low-register piano- and steel guitar-laden arrangements evoke the 1960s and ’70s, while its songs bring to mind classic George-and-Tammy tandems grappling with the many shades of long-term, committed (and not-so-committed) romance. But where the Possum would have brought the vocal edge, Gene offers a measured, low-key approach; Rhonda supplies the firepower, bending salty, chesty notes that point to her bluegrass roots while also proving she’s a natural at full-blooded, emotive country.

The disc’s good-humored title might suggest otherwise, but there’s emotional substance here, and old-style-starved country fans should find Your Money and My Good Looks to be an attractive investment.

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