Album Review: A Tribute To The Judds

A Who’s who of country music joins together to record 14 of the band’s classic singles in tribute to the Country Music Hall of Fame duo.

If there ever was a time to release a tribute to The Judds in country music, 2023 is the perfect time. Sadly, it comes after Naomi Judd passed away last year and while she knew she was a Country Music Hall of Fame member (she died just before the ceremony), Naomi didn’t know the power and breadth of her influence which is encompassed here. 14 of the band’s definitive hits are present on A Tribute To The Judds, with a nice blend of classic and contemporary stars making their presence felt including rising stars like
Ella Langley, Megan Muroney, and Jelly Roll joining the likes of Reba, LeAnn Rimes, Shelby Lynne, Jennifer Nettles, Trisha Yearwood, Blake Shelton, Jamey Johnson, Dolly Parton, Lainey Wilson and Wynonna Judd herself. It’s a fantastic collection of talented singers joining forces to honor the most successful duo in Country Music history.

Reba, Carly Pearce, Jennifer Nettles and Gabby Barrett join forces for “Girls Night Out” as this album’s opening track and, each star gets a moment to shine with Reba and Carly serving as the front third of the song’s duo, Jennifer and Gabby the middle third and the final third is all four artists joining forces for a dynamic blend of harmony that has me now wanting a supergroup release featuring these four. Lainey Wilson and Dolly Parton join forces on “Mama He’s Crazy” and its as delightful as you’d expect that pairing to be. The first male voice heard on this record is Cody Johnson’s take on the classic “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days).” The Isaacs provide harmony vocals on the track while the dynamic Shelly Fairchild joins with Ashley McBride for a brilliant take on “Rockin’ With The Rhythm of the Rain.”

There are some “Americana” and non mainstream county artists on this record with Wendy Moten & O.N.E. The Duo taking on “Had A Dream (For The Heart)” while “Barnett, Lynne & West showcased their newly-formed supergroup trio on “I Know Where I’m Going.” If you don’t know, the trio is comprised of the powerful solo artists Mandy Barnett, Shelby Lynne and Emily West. Their harmonies are top-notch and here’s hoping they’re gonna come out with a whole record of material together. Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley and Molly Tuttle join forces for their bluegrass take on “John Deere Tractor” while technology brings the late iconic Carl Perkins back for a duet with Raul Marlo on “Let Me Tell You About Love.” Meanwhile, Ella Langley and Jamey Johnson deliver a regal take on “Young Love (Strong Love)”

LeAnn Rimes gets shepherds “Have Mercy” and it showcases why she’s such a brilliant singer and why I’d personally love to have another country record (from one of the genre’s best-ever vocalists) sooner than later. Wynonna and Trisha Yearwood take on “Cry Myself To Sleep,” one of the band’s bluesy, soulful tracks which suits both vocalists just right. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton take on “Love Is Alive” and bring a different vibe to the song than we’ve heard before (a good vibe).

Closing out A Tribute To The Judds is Jelly Roll and K. Michelle’s version of “Love Can Build A Bridge” with The Fisk Jubilee Singers on The Judds’ signature hit, a Grammy-winner back in the day. Everything about the version works and Jelly Roll’s voice with just a piano on the first verse is absolutely perfect. The duet with K. Michelle and the harmonies from The Fisk Jubilee Singers works perfectly, especially the bridge and final chorus where they’re all together and it’s absolutely the perfect song to close out a lovingly-made A Tribute To The Judds. The record’s proceeds will go to support the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).