If done correctly, a covers album is a great opportunity for a singer to reinvent some classic songs while making a statement about the type of music that he or she loves. Done poorly, it can be terribly boring. What's better, hearing some singer do a karaoke version of a Loretta Lynn hit or listening to the original? Fortunately, Terri Clark's "Timeless" more than does justice to some of her favorite songs.
Clark wisely avoids the trap of staying too close to the arrangement of the originals. Instead, she uses her brand of neo-traditionalist country that made Girls Lie Too and Better Things to Do such hits. Any of these tunes would sound right at home on one of her previous albums. Her take on Loretta Lynn's Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind), for example, gets a beefed-up sound that is contemporary while staying true to the original.
A few special guests show up to provide some lovely duets, most notably Dierks Bentley on Golden Ring, Reba McEntire and Tanya Tucker chip in to sing with Clark on How Blue and Delta Dawn, respectively.
Several of the songs have been covered numerous times in the past, and Clark's versions, while pleasant, don't really break any new ground. Gentle on My Mind has been done often enough that it probably can use a break.
Others are lesser known, and Clark does a fine job of making them her own. Swinging Doors isn't the first song that pops up when one thinks of Merle Haggard's catalog, and Pasty Cline's Leavin' on Your Mind is a more obscure song when compared to her biggest hits. Clark gives a particularly fine performance with Leavin' as a duet with Canadian singer Jann Arden. While her more rocking songs were her biggest radio hits, Clark's powerful voice is more than suited to the task of taking on a Patsy Cline heartbreaker.
Although Clark may no longer be a U.S. country radio staple like she was in the 1990s, it has not dimmed her creativity in the least. "Timeless" may not be a new album of original material, but a well-made covers album will tide fans over until Clark can get back into the studio with a batch of new tunes.