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Sweethearts of the Rodeo

Restless – 2012 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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Despite their early inroads, Sweethearts of the Rodeo came to a premature demise, thwarted by their first record label's decision to cut them loose once the hits quit coming. A second life, prompted by their signing to Sugar Hill simply couldn't continue their momentum, and by the mid-'90s, the band effectively disappeared from view, their chart success far behind them.

To their credit then, sisters Janis and Kristine Oliver have opted to reconvene and pick up where they left off before their good fortunes deserted them. Their new album, "Restless," seems to bear a tell-all title, indicative perhaps of a desire to reclaim those past glories and prove their ability to strike gold like they did before. Call it a comeback or merely a new phase; whatever the case, it's obvious that the absence of some 16 years hasn't diminished their ability to write a hit or find one composed for them by others.

Indeed, at first hearing, several songs seem destined to return them to the charts, whether it's in the form of a rowdy, rambunctious toe-tapper like the title track, an emotional expose such as What Does Love Mean To You or the down-home and demonstrative offerings that come across through Heart Out In The Rain, Gone To Kentucky and Hopeless Rose. Even their take on the oft-covered standard Get Together finds new resilience in their capable hands.

Still, the music biz is a fickle medium, and there's no certainty that after a prolonged absence, Sweethearts of the Rodeo will find themselves the sweethearts their audiences once embraced.