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Patty Loveless

Sleepless Nights – 2008 (Saguaro Road)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Patty Loveless

Quite simply, Patty Loveless is one of the finest traditional country singers in the past 15 years, and this covers collection that sometimes goes way back in time on a new label does nothing to dispel that fact one iota. She may be in middle age - and perhaps considered "old" by modern radio standards - but no need to worry about quality. The voice still reigns supreme. She wrings the lyrics for much emotion without overdoing it ("why did you go/don't you know I need you?" she sings with sadness on Sleepless Nights, with Vince Gill on his trademark backing vocals). Loveless does not rush the songs, but merely infuses them with sincerity whether on the well-known (the lead-off Why Baby Why There Stands the Glass and the closing "Cold Cold Heart or lesser known I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know, a 1953 hit for the Davis Sisters, and Don't Let Me Cross Over, a 1962 hit for Carl Butler & Pearl).

Producer Emory Gordy Jr. once again handles production chores for his wife. And he knows his client. He puts acoustic guitar as the key instrument on Crazy Arms with a lot of mournful pedal steel from Al Perkins as well. In a day and age where the effort is in giving everything a modern, peppy sound, Gordy and Loveless don't fall victim to that trick. Instead, Loveless makes the songs hers. Otherwise, why bother covering these at all?

Loveless is a singer with staying power even if she does not churn out the radio hits like she used to. What these 14 songs ably demonstrate is that Loveless fortunately stays true to her roots.