Reba McEntire takes a look back at some of her biggest songs on the new box set Revived Remixed Revisited, which was released Friday. Much more than a typical greatest-hits set, the three-disc collection offers 30 new versions of the singer’s best-known songs including “Fancy,” “Why Haven’t I Heard from You,” and “Does He Love You,” repurposed here in stripped-down form as a duet with fellow country legend Dolly Parton.
Surprisingly, it’s the first time that McEntire and Parton have recorded a duet, despite the decades of recording between them.
“Isn’t that amazing? Here we are, so far along in our careers [and] we haven’t gotten to sing together,” McEntire tells Rolling Stone. “I’ve sang for her, she’s sang for me, but we’ve never done a duet together. I was so thrilled that she said yes.”
Originally released as a single in 1993, “Does He Love You” was written by Sandy Knox and Billy Stritch and describes an intense love triangle in such deliciously melodramatic fashion that it could be a soap opera plot. Singer Linda Davis was McEntire’s original singing partner, going toe to toe with the star in a thrilling vocal showcase.
McEntire and Parton’s version from the Revisited disc is a quieter, more somber affair. All-star producer Dave Cobb takes the song down to its basic elements and lets the two singers have a conversation. Parton’s softer voice brings out an element of fragility that was harder to spot in the original version, like her resolve is almost gone. As those sessions were completed while Covid raged, Parton wasn’t able to be in the studio, but they made up for it later.
“By the time the video came along, we were all vaccinated and safe enough to get in the same room together,” McEntire says.
Working with Cobb was a new experience for McEntire, whose albums have often been maximalist, cutting-edge productions made for arenas. The more laid-back feel of the Revisited disc is why McEntire says it’s her favorite of the new trio.
“It was about five or six musicians,” she says. “Dave’s idea is, ‘When she sings, everybody back off, everybody get out of her way.’ We all got in there together and sang and had fun. It was just very relaxed — that’s the best adjective I can use for the Dave Cobb sessions.”
Revived Remixed Revisited is split stylistically across the three discs. The Revived portion gives McEntire’s touring band a chance to shine on the versions of her songs as she does them live, while Remixed puts forth dancefloor-ready transformations of her hits, including a disco-tinged take on “Does He Love You” with Davis’ original vocals. Revisited features Cobb’s more intimate, scaled-down productions.
Later in 2021, McEntire will join back up with Brooks & Dunn for their ongoing residency Together in Vegas, which plays its final dates at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace beginning December 1st.