Upon first impression, Connie Smith sounds every bit the 70-plus year old singer she is. She doesn't have the lung power she once did. However, it's the voice of experience, rather than the voice of strength that makes "Long Line of Heartaches" into a winner.
Smith is at her best on Johnny Russell's Ain't You Even Gonna Cry, which features little more than Smith's heartbroken voice over an acoustic guitar. It's just such a great song, and the kind of lyric that really paints the clear picture of a hardhearted lover. Smith co-wrote many of these songs with her producer/husband Marty Stuart. However, whether it's something Smith cooked up with Stuart and Kostas, such as I'm Not Blue, or an older dish, like Anymore, which was written by Roy Drusky - among others - all these tunes sound like vintage, traditional country songs. With lines like, "What's a heart like you, doing in a fool like me?," it's nearly impossible to go wrong.
This album was tracked at the famous RCA Studio B in Nashville, a place where so many wonderful country records were birthed. That makes perfect sense because "Long Line of Heartaches" follows a long line of heartbreaking country records. Some of country music's wayward daughters (are you listening Faith and Martina?) could learn a lesson or two from Smith. Just because you have Southern roots doesn't necessarily make you country. It's what you do with your tree once it grows, that counts. Connie Smith's roots go deep, yet her country music -saturated branches are still reaching out beautifully.