1. Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott – “House of Gold”
So we know that this was originally on their 2000 album, Real Time. We also know that it was reissued again in 2005. But this haunting version a cappela version of Hank Williams, Sr.’s gospel number is stunning. Recorded during two separate concerts at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, N.C. in 2005 and 2006, the song is on the album We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This which is comprised of performances that were benefit shows for the Arthur Morgan School, where both had children attending as students at the time. It says true to Williams’ version while giving new life without a single instrument. It’s classic country gospel revisited. Listen HERE.
2. Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen – “If I Didn’t Know Better”
This is another incredible cover song… with a twist. Actor Sam Palladio and actress Clare Bowen take this not-too-old Civil Wars song and bring it down to an acoustic whisper of sorts, giving it an intimacy and romanticism that even exceeds the original version. Featured prominently in an early episode of ABC’s Nashville, it showed right away that showed music director T Bone Burnett’s music chops and excellence in choosing the right music for the right scene. Listen HERE.
3. Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss – “Make the World Go Away”
A third song on the list and a third cover... Notice a trend? Jamey Johnson idolized his friend and mentor Hank Cochran and chose to dedicate an entire album to him this year with Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran. All but one of the tracks are collaborations with artists that Johnson appreciates and none were finer than this gorgeous duet with the ethereal voiced Alison Krauss. What results is a beautiful rendition of a classic song. Listen HERE.
4. Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill – “Don’t Rush”
Clarkson makes no genre-related apologies for her music. Pop? Country? She chooses to cross lines as her muse decides where to go. While this track isn’t straight-forward country by any means, her soulful delivery and Gill’s impeccable and unmistakable harmony on chorus make it one of the most enjoyable listens off of Clarkson’s Greatest Hits - Chapter One album. Listen HERE.
5. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard – “Horse Called Music”
Nelson originally released this track on a 1989 album of the same name. But when it came to picking out a track for he and friend Haggard to sing together on this year’s Heroes album. , this great track cut in the vein of “Pancho and Lefty” and the great old Marty Robbins themes was an easy choice. Soundalike son Lukas Nelson helps out as well. Listen HERE.
6. Don Williams and Alison Krauss – “I Just Come Here for the Music”
Eight years went by between Williams’ last album and this year’s And So It Goes. As the Country Music Hall of Famer has been doing since 1973, he provides an elegant simplicity in song that imparts more story and emotion than nearly anything else on the radio today. Krauss’ vocals just put it over the top and give it that much more magic. Listen HERE.
7. Lionel Richie and Little Big Town – “Deep River Woman”
This marks the fifth (and last) cover of this year’s Top Ten Duets list. Originally sung with Richie and the country supergroup Alabama, Richie utilized the incredible vocal talents of Little Big Town to beautiful effect this time around for Tuskegee. Listen HERE.
8. Ricky Skaggs and Barry Gibb – “Soldiers Son”
Longtime country radio stalwart and now bluegrass leader Ricky Skaggs and Bee Gee’s lead singer Barry Gibb might seem an awkward pairing. But this track written by Gibb and featured on Skaggs’ album Music To My Ears is… well… music to my ears. Here’s to hoping we’ll hear more Gibb recorded material in country music in the future. Listen HERE.
9. Jerry Douglas and Marc Cohn – “Right On Time”
Douglas is best known for his incredible dobro work with Alison Krauss and Union Station while Marc Cohn for “Walking in Memphis.” This soulful song on Douglas’ album Traveler draws on bluesy influences and grinds out a beautiful groove. Listen HERE.
10. Corb Lund and Hayes Carll– “Bible On The Dash”
One of the many highlights of Lund’s Cabin Fever album include the Hayes Carll co-write and story-song duet "Bible on the Dash." A permanently borrowed Gideon's Bible gets the duo out of more than one scrape with the law. Listen HERE.