Various Artists: Let Us In, Nashville: A Tribute to Linda McCartney

beatles, linda mccartney, let us inLet Us In Nashville is a pedestrian collection of songs sporting a confusing message in the finest tradition of the “tunes you know by artists you don’t” formula that simply refuses to die out due mostly to the large amount of capitol it generates. The subject this go round is the well known songs of Paul McCartney as interpreted by country and western artists.
I’ll get to the music in a minute, but must first explain the concept that failed across the board to tie this album together. The Women and Cancer Fund with a little help from their friends at Reviver Music wanted to raise money in the battle against cancer. To accomplish this, they initiated the “Let Us In” campaign, which focuses on empowering women, the tag line a reference to women actively participating in their own healthcare once diagnosed in addition to prevention and early detection.
So to sell as many records as possible, the Women and Cancer Fund decided to make a tribute album for Linda McCartney featuring exactly zero of her songs. I fail to see how this memorializes the woman in any capacity, and seems even slightly insulting because there seems to be no correlation between Lady McCartney’s death and the timing of the release. WaCF just slapped her face on the cover of an album of her husband’s songs and then had the audacity to call it a tribute. Empowerment, indeed. So is it a meek question: “Let us in?” or Let us in! a demand providing no room for debate.
Whichever it may truly be, Let Us In features 16 tracks by country and western artists. Nashville has done a pretty flawless job of removing any legitimacy or balls from country music over the last thirty years, and this album on the whole is no exception. Let Us In doesn’t want to challenge or inspire critical thought. It doesn’t want you to question anything. It just wants you to wonder vaguely whether or not you recognize whatever track is playing over the PA system as you stare dreamily into the album cover displayed prominently near the cash register at your local mega-chain coffee establishment, guilt tripping you into thinking you’ll be doing some good by buying Let Us In, Nashville.
Now, the entire point behind covering a well established song is to discover the possibilities of that song in another light. Think of Alien Ant Farm‘s treatment of “Smooth Criminal.” In print, country flavored Paul McCartney tunes seems like a good idea until you remember the only thing separating country from pop is a southern accent and/or the inclusion of a fiddle/lap guitar on every single track. Thus, the individual artists did very little to individualize their chosen songs.
The shining exception to the drivel of this album is Phil Vassar covering “Lady Madonna.” He begins the song in a dirty delta off timed piano melody that swells into an anthem around the chorus. Then it breaks down again, impressing the vision of a pre-war N’awlins whore house. And if I’m to be completely honest, I was also attracted to the edge Nikki Shannon Fernandez gave “I Saw Her Standing There,” but I can’t decide whether it’s because I’ve always wanted to date a bad ass rocker chick or if it’s because I’ve always hated the orchestrated naivety of the early Beatles. Either way, the majority of the tracks on this collection are uninspired walk-throughs.
An album intended to raise money for cancer research is a hard thing to pan, but don’t buy this album. I’d rather suggest putting your money to better use. I suggest you go to any swap meet, garage sale, or Amish market and buy McCartney material on its original vinyl pressings, and then donate your money or time to charity.
I give Phil Vassar and Miss Fernandez a ten for their contributions. Of course then I have to divide that score by the 14 other artists they carried giving Let Us In, Nashville an overall score of .7.
Rating: 0.7/20
MP3: Phil Vassar “Lady Madonna”
Buy: iTunes