Friday, September 12, 2008
Picture this. You are sitting around the living room after a good southern dinner on a Sunday evening. The family is gathered, the television is off, and each family member picks up an instrument and starts to play some good ol’ classic country music. Well, that is the exact image I got right before I put in Patty Loveless’ newest release “Sleepless Nights.” However, that feeling didn’t stay around too long. You see, the album is much darker than that. The real mood of the album comes from a different story. This album was created after the loss of her mother-in-law in 2005, and the death of her mother the next year. Her brother had a stroke, and she had stopped touring. Sitting at the dinner table listening to classic songs with her husband, she began to think she would like to record some of the songs she was hearing. Out of those conversations, Loveless delivers an incredible cover album of 14 classic country songs, yet, a slowed down arrangement and Loveless lending chilling and heart-filled vocals.
The album does start off on a high-pace and the excellently delivered rendition of George Jones’ “Why Baby Why.” “Crazy Arms” (Ray Price) is a signature Loveless’ vocal fills the room. You feel each and every lyric come out and touch you. Hank Locklin’s “Please Help Me , I’m Falling” is again full of excellent vocals. The title track, “Sleepless Nights” (The Everly Brothers) features Vince Gill on this heartbreaking ballad that really brings the background story of the album to light.
The instrumentation on the album cannot go unmentioned either. Hall of Fame Guitarist Harold Bradley (Patsy Cline), the most legendary pianist Pig Robbins, and just as legendary, Al Perkins on steel guitar appear on many tracks. These players make the album. They set the mood, and oh yes, they make it a true country music album, by far.
This is an album is an excellent example of how country music works. There is a story to every album, every song in its way it was performed. It also shows that songs mean something different to everyone at even different times of their lives. At first listen, this album may not feel like Loveless’ best work, however, with the personal story and giving it another listen, it’s a masterpiece.