Artist: Ronnie Dunn
Label: Big Machine
Genre: Country/Classic Rock
I’m convinced that Ronnie Dunn could release a recording of him reading the phone book and it would go platinum, so the fact that he was kind enough to actually record songs for his new album, Re-Dunn, means that country music fans everywhere better go buy this album ASAP. Dunn, with his distinct voice and musical stylings, has given audiences a true music lovers album this time. Rather than write new songs or try to fit within the scope of the currently reigning pop-country sound, Dunn chose a series of well-known songs that make up the American musical landscape and re-imagined them with original country-centric compositions. Dunn chose a great release style, too; rather than dropping a surprise album that could very well leave fans unsure of what to think, Dunn released a handful of singles from the project over several months in order to give listeners a taste of what was next to come. I never thought I’d hear Ronnie Dunn do any kind of rendition of “Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)” by the Hollies or Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”, but he did that and I like it. Some might say his new album is a departure from the true-blue country songwriter we all know and love, but I disagree. I see this album as a true celebration of music; the fruits of one man’s intense labor in the industry and a dynamic musicality that allows Dunn to shine as a true artist and lover of music, not just a token act with one very distinct and unchanging style.
The song selection is interesting. I wish I could sit down with Dunn for ten minutes and ask him about the selection process and why he chose what he chose. What about Lee Ann Womack’s “Ashes By Now” made the verteran singer go yes, I need to sin g that on my own album? It was a fantastic song when Womack recorded it; having a man sing it does definitely change the tone of the song but not in any sort of negative way. In addition to Womack, Dunn chose a wide range of artists to cover, including Tom T. Hall, Tom Petty, the Eagles, Van Morrison, and Pure Prairie League. Perhaps my favorite on the album is “You Don’t Know Me”. Dunn takes a slow approach to the song- which really highlights his sustained vocal ability.
All in all, the album is a great collection of re-imaginings of some of the most popular songs in American music. Dunn shows a great deal of musical integrity and the project is overall a lot of fun. It’s a rock solid product from a veteran artist enjoying his legacy years. Groundbreaking? No, but that was never his goal. Great remakes with great musical talent from an artist sharing some of his favorite songs and styles? Yes. Absolutely. Even though this project started as a streaming experiment with Big Machine, Dunn’s love for good music took over. This seems like an “I want to have fun and remember the joy of making music” type of project over an “I need critical acclaim” type of project- which I admire. I applaud Big Machine for working with their legacy artists on these types of experiments and passion projects – they found an effective way to keep an artist recording, they all had a great time, and they made American classics available in a new way for audiences of all ages.
Favorite Songs: You Don’t Know Me, Against the Wind, Wonderful Tonight