Of four all-covers discs in Garth Brooks' Walmart-exclusive box set, Blue Eyed Soul feels emotionally rich, Classic Rock rather overbearing, softer-rock Melting Pot a bit sappy. These all focus on songs everybody knows and nobody hates. But Country Classics, oddly enough, comes off less obvious and reverent. It moves quickest, too, partly because so many selections – from George Jones' early boogie-woogie to Jerry Reed's bayou funk – have R&B in them. Brooks yelps, hiccups, burps all over these songs – giddily, even comically. In the process, contemporary country's pre-eminent omnivore reminds us that country was never a purist genre to begin with.
From The Archives Issue 1200: January 16, 2014