Friends in High Places
Twelve years ago, Jones recorded a duet album with a pack of his friends — including such non-country figures as Elvis Costello and Linda Ronstadt — that seemed a stylistic and artistic mixed bag. Still, it was high art compared to this sequel, Friends in High Places featuring mostly Jones’ label mates (Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Daniels). Jones is always best when moaning his litany of sins, but this album paints him as the blandest kind of crooner, doing, for example, a song-and-dance number with Shelby Lynne (”If I Could Bottle This Up”) that’s fit for Bob Hope. The guests seem chosen for their marquee value, not for how well their voices blend with Jones’. But the real kiss of death is the lack of discernible spark, as if Jones and his friends never sang together in the studio. That’s a sure sign that this is an album made in overdub heaven.