Sign up for newsletter
 

Kitty Wells

Forever Young – 2002 (Junction)

Reviewed by Tamara Bunnell

Subscribe to Country CD Reviews CD Reviews

CDs by Kitty Wells

When Kitty Wells' album was first released in 1974, it was a flop. For the woman crowned the Queen of Country Music for her classic honky tonk twang, it was a risk to record this series of crossover songs. With songs by Bob Dylan and Otis Redding and musicians from the Southern Rock tradition, the release took Wells' fans too far out of their comfort zone, and it was promptly pulled from the marketplace. In this age when arguments abound regarding what is or is not country, this re-issue reminds us that the debate goes back far beyond the current Nashville line-up. In that sense, this is a timely release indeed and a reminder that artists are as shackled by stringent ideas as are radio playlists.

Removed from the zeitgeist of the album's original time, all that remains is the rich and aching quality of Wells' voice, and the truth that it is not so much what she is singing that matters, but that she is singing, and all that is magical about that voice is as present here as in any other release. What matters is not that the musicians were anti-establishment long-hairs, but that they were damn good. No, this one isn't likely to become anyone's favorite Kitty Wells album, but for its courage and newness it deserves this new birth.