Now here’s the surprise of the week. Rather than use a ‘voice-over’ vocalist for her singing parts in the upcoming film Country Strong, ‘international’ film star Gwyneth Paltrow has recorded her parts for the album – much like Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell in Crazy Heart – and this single has been released, as the title theme to the film. Co-stars in Country Strong include Tim McGraw as her manager/husband and Garret Hedlund as a young singer/songwriter who tries to seduce her.
Previously recorded by Carrie Hassler in 2002 and written by Jennifer Hanson, Mark Nesler and Tony Martin, “Country Strong” is a song that may be slightly over-produced but it showcases a strong-voiced Paltrow (whose husband is Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin) and has strong lyrics about a woman who is ‘heard to break, like the ground I grew up on, you may fool me and I’ll fall, but I won’t stay down long, cause I’m Country strong.’ Vince Gill and Patty Griffin provide stellar harmony vocals (even if they’re slightly hard to hear in the mix).
While not nearly as compelling and engaging as “The Weary Kind” was for Crazy Heart, this song has a good chance of being a mainstream hit with Paltrow’s strong alto leading the way. If the rest of the soundtrack is as good as “Country Strong,” this might be one of 2010’s most surprising albums, like this single.