My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Gwyneth Paltrow – ‘Country Strong’

“Country Strong” is a very conventionally-produced power anthem, with fluffy lyrics performed by a beautiful blonde singer. In other words, it has all the trappings of a potential smash hit. Having grown weary of the steady onslaught of outside-the-genre celebrities trying to crack the country music market in recent years, I was initially more than a bit skeptical upon learning that Gwyneth Paltrow was releasing a single to country radio. Therefore, I was a pleasantly surprised after listening to the song to discover that Paltrow proves herself to be a competent, if non-distinctive, vocalist, though admittedly the excellent harmony vocals provided by Vince Gill and Patty Griffin help to camouflage Paltrow’s vocal shortcomings. I may revise my opinion of Gwyneth’s singing depending on how her live performance on the upcoming CMA Awards show goes, but in the studio, at least, she is definitely up to the task.

Written by Jennifer Hanson, Tony Martin and Mark Nesler, and produced by Byron Gallimore, “Country Strong” is the title track of a new soundtrack album being released by RCA this week, to promote the upcoming motion picture of the same title. In the film, Paltrow portrays a fallen country star, struggling to recover from alcoholism and rebuild her career. Tim McGraw co-stars as her manager and husband.

There is nothing particularly memorable or interesting about this record, and in fact, a strong case can be made that the last thing country radio needs right now is another generic, relentlessly positive female empowerment anthem. However, since the track’s purpose is solely to act as a promotional tool for a movie, and since Gwyneth Paltrow is not normally known as a singer, I’m prepared to cut her and the record a little slack. And since, presumably, Paltrow’s character triumphs over her adversities by the end of the film, the positive message is entirely appropriate.

A music video of “Country Strong” can be viewed on YouTube. The single can be downloaded from iTunes and Amazon. The soundtrack album, which also contains contributions from Chris Young and Patty Loveless, Ronnie Dunn, Sara Evans, Trace Adkins, Lee Ann Womack, and others is also available from Amazon.

Grade: B

5 responses to “Single Review: Gwyneth Paltrow – ‘Country Strong’

  1. Ben Foster October 26, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I liked this one okay on the first listen, but it’s just not a very interesting song. But I agree with you on Gwyneth’s vocals – she does prove herself to be a capable vocalist. There were some nice production choices as well.

  2. bob October 26, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I liked her in “Duets” but the best vocal performance in that movie was
    Paul Giamatti and Arnold McCuller on Try A Little Tenderness.

  3. Nicolas November 3, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I really love the tone in her voice on this, and the production is good (particularly the fiddle on verse 2) ❤

  4. Sydney November 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I love this song, and the video makes me so excited to see the movie! She also did a great job on the CMA’s last night!! Who saw her performance?!

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