Album Review | COUNTRY

A moving tribute to Hank Cochran

Jamey Johnson, “Living for A Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran”

Depending on where you’re at in your own romantic life, Jamey Johnson’s sterling tribute to the late, great country music tunesmith Hank Cochran will either provide solace or send you to Costco to buy Kleenex in bulk.

It speaks volumes about not only Cochran’s undeniable place in the country pantheon — he wrote hits for over 40 years — but also the esteem in which Johnson himself is held as a singer-songwriter that he managed to assemble a who’s who of country royalty for this 16-track collection which covers Cochran’s hits (“I Fall to Pieces”) as well as deeper cuts (“I Don’t Do Windows”).


The tone is set perfectly by the weeping “Make the World Go Away” as Johnson and Alison Krauss perform a sad, sexy, wistful dance. Ray Price is rough silk on the vulnerable ode to wounded pride “You Wouldn’t Know Love.” The aforementioned “Windows” is fiddling fun with Asleep at the Wheel. Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard lend a lion-in-winter grace to the title track, which also features an archival Cochran vocal. And Vince Gill and Leon Russell team up on “A Way to Survive,” an almost unbearably poignant ode to clinging to the past as a survival mechanism.

The thread running through it all is Johnson’s own down-home bray, which has surprisingly chameolonic qualities when it comes to harmonizing with such disparate voices. (Out Tuesday)

Sarah Rodman

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