Tanya Tucker

Fire to Fire

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Considering that even at 13 years old, Tanya Tucker sounded like a world-weary adult, it's no surprise that in 1994, firmly ensconced in middle age, her vocals had gained a profound sense of life experience that few other singers of any genre can approach. Thankfully, on Fire to Fire Tucker doesn't even bother with the sort of boot-scootin' modern fluff that would underutilize her wonderfully sandpapery voice. Rather, she concentrates primarily on tear-jerking country ballads and mature pop, wringing so much emotion out of each word that she often recalls late-'70s/early-'80s era George Jones. Producer Jerry Crutchfield wisely keeps the music minimal throughout, allowing Tucker's voice to carry the tunes. Occasionally, Crutchfield's pop side gets the best of him (resulting in songs that sound like they'd be a bit more comfortable on a Don Henley album), but luckily the music never overwhelms the message. Standouts include "Come in Out of the World," the title track (a duet with Willie Nelson), and "Love Will," which moves jauntily along with a nice Muscle Shoals-inspired groove. Fire to Fire is an adult album in the best sense of the word. There are no barnburners or instant chart classics here, just thoughtful songwriting, flawless (if sometimes uninspired) musicianship, and one of the all-time greatest voices in country music.

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