A Mountain Soul and a Country Heart

On Your Way Home –
Patty Loveless

Loveless has been a mainstay on the country charts for more than 15 years now, and her career continues to blossom. These days the Kentucky girl is producing mountain soul music, which just happened to be the name of one of her most recent records. This latest disc is a roadmap back to the heart of country music that makes no compromises and touches the soul.

“Draggin’ My Heart Around” is an up tempo mover with heavy guitars. Loveless and her producer/husband Emory Gordy Jr. have done a masterful job. The songs draw out Loveless’ blues slurs and the same sense of command and empathy that’s presented in her greatest singles. Jim Lauderdale’s “Lookin’ For A Heartache” sways the night away. Although commercial radio may thumb their noses at this, On Your Way Home is a great snapshot of Loveless’ music evolution. B+

Dierks Bentley –
Dierks Bentley

Finally – a good ole boy that doesn’t have to be a spokesperson for tight jeans, tight shirts and cowboy hats. This talented newcomer rose to the top of the charts with his fun, spirited single, “What Was I Thinkin’.”

Luckily, the Bentley album is loaded with fun, energetic music.

Animal lovers should like Bentley – the dog you see all over the CD is Bentley’s pooch Jake, and that imaging touch, positively adventuresome by Music Row standards, suggests something about the album within. “Wish It Would Break” offers insightful verses and a lush chorus. The classic honky-tonk anthem, “Bartenders, etc.” rocks, while the final cut “Train Travelin'” closes out an impressive debut effort. A-

Restless –
Sara Evans

Evans is a woman with a strong traditional background. “Born To Fly” and “I Could Not Ask For More” are a few of her recent hits that have struck a chord with fans across the land. On this fourth album for RCA Records, the Missouri beauty has found a way to marry contemporary sounds and sensibilities with her bedrock country and bluegrass history.

Most of the songs on Restless carry a message of hope. “Rockin’ Horse,” one of five tracks she co-wrote, is an example of this, as is “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus.” “Big Cry” is a swaggering rhythm and blues number. “Perfect” is a great-sounding track that gets the toes’ tappin.’ Like fine wine, Sara Evans is only getting better with a little age. B

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Fate’s Right Hand –
Rodney Crowell

If you want an album with depth and breadth, then you’re in luck. This is a record about growth, about knowing the difference between what you can change and what you can’t. It’s about facing your mistakes – or wishing you wanted to anyway (“The Man in Me”) – and it includes a recitation about meditation (“Time to Go Inward”) and a rousing anthem about wanting to stick around, problems and all (“Earthbound”).

Crowell has been making his unique brand of country for an amazing four decades, garnering a lot of praise, some criticism and a lot of attention along the way. The title track is a free-association rhymer, suggesting that the right hand of fate is more often poised to deliver a sucker punch than a blessing. Here’s to four more decades of Rodney Crowell music! C+

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