Generations In Song finds country music stalwart Hank Locklin (now in his ’80s) reinterpreting some of his best-known numbers and having little trouble giving them a new twist, in part because the many guest stars he enlisted to help out. Dolly Parton adds a charming vocal harmony to Locklin’s own “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On”, which exudes sweetness and sadness in just the right amount. Likewise, “Let Me Be The One” (a #1 country hit in 1953) has a winning combination of hopefulness and hesitancy that gives it a bittersweet edge.
The tempo’s a lot more jocular elsewhere, as on the easy shuffle of “Hey Good Lookin'” (with a guest vocal from Jett Williams). Even more sprightly is “We’re Gonna Go Fishing”, Locklin’s suggestion for a Saturday night date at the ol’ swimming hole, with his grandkids chiming in on the playground-chant chorus: “Lipstick, makeup, leave behind/Makeup takes up too much time.”
The clean arrangements guard against too much schmaltz and allow Locklin’s clear voice to ring through, as on the reflective “Danny Boy” (with a guest vocal from Vince Gill). Which is why, though a lively number such as the down-home “Country Honey” might be more fun, it’s on ballads such as “Anna” (guest vocal from Jan Howard) and “Almost Persuaded” that Lockin’s vocals, still strong after all these years, really shine.
In the liner notes, he writes, “Sing along if you want to, ’cause the louder you sing, the better I’ll sound!” Given the caliber of the artist and the musicians, that seems unlikely.