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From the Country Standard Time Archives

With low glitz, Patty Loveless's musical quality sparkles

The House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., June 12, 2003

By Dan MacIntosh

ANAHEIM, CA - When Patty Loveless strolled out on stage wearing an understated blouse and jeans, you knew right away that this was going to be a concert that was low on glitz, and hopefully high on musical quality. And thankfully, Loveless left much of her pop-country side back at home in the closet with her rhinestone cowgirl clothes.

The best part was when Loveless gathered her stellar band around a few sparse microphones for a set of selections from her recent bluegrass-accented "Mountain Soul" album.

The sadder-than-sad "Cheap Whisky," and the doubly sadder-than-sad "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" came off particularly well within this stripped down setting. While still arranged in this bluegrass formation, Loveless and her band also performed "The Boys Are Back In Town," "Daniel Prayed" and "Soul Of Constant Sorrow" from "Mountain Soul."

A close second on the evening's highlight reel came in the form of Loveless performing many of her big hit ballads, such as "Here I Am," "Don't Toss Us Away" and "Nothin' But The Wheel."

When singing these remorseful songs, Loveless does so with great patience and care. And much like a lot of her bluegrass-y material, many of these songs are just doggone sad. In fact, this concert setting acted as a reminder of just how many of Loveless' biggest hits are such depressing little ditties. This made her singing of the funny "I Try To Think About Elvis" all the more essential, since it helped prevent the show from becoming just a little bit too dirge-y.

Loveless also performed the title track - and one other song - from her upcoming "On The Way Home" album, to give longtime fans a little something extra to enjoy. This title song, which confronts an alleged cheater about his questionable behavior, is yet one more romantic drama in song - albeit a good one. But with a voice like the one Loveless has, even the most tragic sentiments can still sound pretty.

Pretty women like Loveless look beautiful, even when they're not trying to make anybody's best dressed list. Similarly, Loveless is a singer that doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles to give her music any extra shine. Loveless music sparkles perfectly well, all on its own..