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Gene Watson

In a Perfect World – 2007 (Shanachie)

Reviewed by Steven Freedman

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CDs by Gene Watson

In an age of photo-ops and 10-second sound bites, Gene Watson is a welcome respite. On his latest, Watson's richly mellow voice with that subtle twang comes shining through and is indicative as to why he should be considered one of the standard-bearers of pure country music.

Right out of the gate, he proves triumphant with "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" and the beguiling "She's Already Gone." His robustness is also evident on the sweet and sour musings on "I Buried Our Love."

However, the perplexing aspects of this album are the so-called duets, which comprise 6 of the 11 tracks. With the exception of the adrenaline pumping Watson-Mark Chesnutt hook-up on "This Side of the Door" and the barely passable version of the Buck Owens classic "Together Again" with Rhonda Vincent, the other performers get lost in the shuffle. Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Joe Nichols and Connie Smith are barely audible and prove to be nothing more than mere window dressing. This is a real shame as the potential for great music was left unfulfilled and could have turned what is a very good Gene Watson album into a great Gene Watson and friends album.