I’m going to kick off this recap with a controversial statement: I prefer Zoey in ZAG Band over Scarlett in Triple XXXs. But no one tell Clare Bowen, because she’s clearly having a ball up there during the high-energy tune.
“Fade Into You”
Non-controversial statement: This song might be my favorite Bowen-Sam Palladio collaboration since the pilot’s “If I Didn’t Know Better.” (Also: During a recent rewatch, I was shocked to realize that this is the song that Juliette and Deacon have sex to. I had all but expunged that little interlude from my memory.)
During a between-song interview segment, Palladio says he’s writing songs, playing around Nashville, “pretty much what Gunnar does on a daily basis.” For his sake, I hope that doesn’t include “moping about stuff that happened a decade ago” and “being really bad at coming up with band names.”
“How You Learn to Live Alone”
The title card tells us that the piano ballad, which Jonathan Jackson nails, was written by Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters. Gauthier was once very nice to me when I was a young journalist profiling her for my college paper, so this makes me very happy.
“If Your Heart Can Handle It”
Who knew, all those years that his abs were doing the talking on The O.C., that Chris Carmack had such a gorgeous musical self underneath all of that muscle? (I know, I know. Many of you knew. You get an award for being ahead of the rest of us.) Also: If this very good performance inspires Nashville to send Will and Layla on a “We Both Like Dudes” Tour 2015, I’d buy a ticket.
“I Know How to Love You Now”
My rational self thinks it’s cool that Charles Esten and country star Deana Carter co-wrote Deacon’s “please gimme a do-over” song for Ms. Jaymes. My irrational self irritatedly wonders WHO IS THIS WOMAN AND WHY IS SHE NOT RAYNA?
“We Got a Love”
Lennon and Maisy Stella have a very cool sound, amazing harmonies and a genuine sense of enjoyment whenever they perform. Is it too old-lady of me to think that maybe Maisy is a wee bit too young to be singing so earnestly about heartbreak and the like?
“If I Drink This Beer”
Carmack and Will Chase do such a solid rendition of Luke’s song of pain, you can almost see the pickup truck driving through the wedding cake before your very eyes.
“Going Out Like That”
Reba shows up, gets a huge crowd reaction and performs her new single about a woman on the rebound. It’s fun — but not as fun as Esten’s story about how he geeked out while singing Christmas carols with the country singer at a holiday party.
“Friend of Mine”
After Esten and the cast recognize the many songwriters in the audience, everyone (save Reba, at least until the bows) comes out on stage for a really lovely wrap-up to the evening. Having seen last spring’s live tour, I can attest to the fact that this is one talented group.
Sigh. If only this were also a shot from the evening. I’ve raised the point before, but these concert specials would really benefit from Connie Britton’s presence. (Hayden Panettiere gets a pass — this time — because she was approximately 13 months pregnant when the concert was shot.) After all, what’s Nashville without its First Lady of Country Music?