Patty Loveless “Mountain Soul II” Saguaro Road Records – Review
By Easy Ed | CountryMusicPride.com
The twenty year stretch from the release of Urban Cowboy to O Brother, Where Art Thou was an interesting time in country music. For decades all the major record labels had offices in Nashville, but it was during this period that they seriously began to contribute to the corporate profits of their parent companies, and their business model and marketing and sales efforts started to mirror those of mainstream pop. Folks who came to the music early through traditional artists such as the Carter Family and Hank, Merle, Buck and George, from bluegrass and the Sunday morning songs, or even the Byrds-Burrito axis, felt a bit left out as the hat acts and painted ladies dominated radio and the shelves at retail. Sort of like it still is today, I guess.
Patty Loveless was one of those artists that I’d hear on the radio and would see at the awards shows from time to time, and always had it in the back of my mind she was someone special to check out…but I didn’t. After the release of O’ Brother and the interest in bluegrass music spiked, I caught her on the tour that was put together to support the soundtrack and movie. I recall that when she came out on the stage and started to sing, that I sat up straight and marveled at the power and clarity of her voice. Man…she was special that night and once again I was intent on exploring her music…but didn’t.
It took a blog post a few weeks ago with a passing reference to Patty’s new upcoming bluegrass release to make me finally take the time for a longer look at an amazing woman with a great life story and a body of work that is as Americana as it is country.
As a young teenage girl growing up in Kentucky, Patty sang locally with her family and then spent her weekends and time off from school touring at first with Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, and later as the featured singer with The Wilbur Brothers. At nineteen she married and moved to North Carolina, where she sang here and there while also working sometimes as a waitress. Ten years later she made her way back to Nashville and with the help of her brother Roger, she secured a singles-only deal at MCA. Early in 1988 she released an album that yielded two top ten singles: “If My Heart Only Had Windows” and “A Little Bit In Love” written by Steve Earle.
For the next four years Patty toured extensively and scored well at radio hit with a number of charted songs. In 1992 she developed a problem with her throat that led to a surgery that could have killed off her career. Fortunately, her voice came back stronger than ever and she began an eight year run at Epic that included the CMA Album of The Year award for When Fallen Angels Fly. With a changing and challenging country radio format, Patty released the bluegrass Mountain Soul and it was received very well. There was a Christmas bluegrass release the following year, and several more commercial releases that led to a Grammy nomination for her 2008 release Sleepless Nights. Which brings us here.
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