Album Review: Kenny Rogers’ You Can’t Make Old Friends...

The new solo album from Kenny Rogers has just been released, and Kenny shows us that he is not someone to rest on his laurels. This is a diverse, sometimes challenging, collection of songs that has the potential of being a big hit. The title track, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”, is a duet with Dolly Parton. This song is the only concession that Rogers makes to his age and history, and he makes it with one of his most popular partners. Dolly sounds slightly huskier now than she did when they recorded “Islands in the Stream” thirty years ago, but both performers are still very capable. This is going to be the first single from this album, but that’s largely for marketing purposes. There are stronger tracks to come. “All I Need Is One” is a contemporary, up-beat love song with a good hook. It’s an easy song to remember, and an easy song to like. “You Had to Be There” is Kenny Rogers on familiar ground: the storyteller. It tells the tale of an estranged father meeting his imprisoned son, and touches on themes of parenthood and responsibility. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as compelling as earlier Rogers’ stories. The next track is “ ’Merica ”. This is a bluesy patriotic anthem in 6/8. Not really Rogers forte; it would be interesting to see what someone like Michael McDonald or Garth Brooks could do with a song like this. Perhaps as a complete about face, we are next given “Turn the World Around”. This is a chanted song with a lot of attitude. It’s rather dark, and addresses the ills of society. This may be the strongest song on the album, and if Warner Bros has enough guts this should be the next...