Too often, duet albums come when an artist’s voice has faded and his career is near the dimming of its day. George Jones’ “Burn Your Playhouse Down” (Bandit) is refreshingly, brilliantly different.
Made up of recordings done for earlier projects but never released, the CD presents Jones at his Hall of Fame best. Selections range from a mid-1970s duet with former wife Tammy Wynette to a 2006 duet with their daughter, Georgette Jones.
The Possum’s honky-tonk pure voice blends seamlessly with those from country, rock and bluegrass. It is as natural beside the smoky growl of Leon Russell ("The Window Up Above") as it is trading “I love you’s” with the delicate-voiced Shelby Lynn ("I Always Get It Right with You") or sharing tear-stained regret with Ricky Skaggs ("She Once Lived Here").
Highlights include “Rockin’ Years” with Dolly Parton, a reprise of the No. 1 hit she and Ricky Van Shelton enjoyed in 1991; the Marty Stuart collaboration of “You’re Still on My Mind,” from the Byrds’ classic 1968 album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo"; and the soul-searching forthrightness of “Selfishness in Man,” with Vince Gill.
Jones begins and ends this far-reaching collection with family matters. The lead track, “You and Me and Time,” written by and performed with his daughter, Georgette, is an emotional dialogue on estrangement and reconciliation: “You and me and time/ finally got together/ I’m sorry that it took so long/ But better late than never.”
It’s an especially poignant counterpoint to “Lovin’ You, Lovin’ Me,” her parents’ declaration of love that closes.