Lionel Richie revisits his roots in more ways than one with “Tuskegee,” a new duets album featuring the music icon performing his classic hits primarily with contemporary country stars.
Named for his Alabama hometown, “Tuskegee” is hardly Richie's first foray into country music. He and Kenny Rogers deliver a stellar duet version of “Lady,” the 1980 hit for the country crooner that Richie wrote and produced. “Deep River Woman,” which Richie recorded with vocal group Alabama in 1987, sounds even better when his butter-rich tones are folded into the gorgeous harmonies of country quartet Little Big Town.
Despite the cliche concept of pairing a veteran performer and his old standards with young guns eager to pay homage, “Tuskegee” mostly succeeds because it keeps the familiar melodies intact, lightly applies the country flourishes and most importantly, carefully matches the newcomers with the best material. After all, if you're going to swap Diana Ross with a country diva for a new version of “Endless Love,” it's hard to imagine a better fit than Shania Twain.