The last time anyone saw this many stars together was back before the dime ran out on the Hubble space telescope. Travis has never had any trouble selling zillions of records, but with the added incentive of duets with a dozen of the biggest names in country music, he’ll undoubtedly sell 12 zillion with this one.
The whole idea, apparently, is to ensure Travis’ equal footing with the all-time greats--namely George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty . . . even B. B. King and Roy Rogers! But only in a few instances do the pairings catch fire. And except for numbers with such non-singers as Kris Kristofferson and (honest, folks) Clint Eastwood, Travis comes off second best.
In the heartbreaker “We’re Strangers Again,” Wynette sounds wistful, resolved, nostalgic, melancholy, devastated and achingly regretful--all within the space of two lines. But when she turns the mike over to Travis, he sounds like an actor on a first read-through of an unfamiliar script. Then again, when you step into the ring with heavyweights like these, you’d best be prepared to take a few lumps. Or, as another cultural icon once put it, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”