Jukebox Pearls is Bear Family's series focusing on the unsung female country singers of the '50s and '60s, but Margie Singleton's volume, Pledging My Love, doesn't play particularly country. A collection of sides she recorded for Mercury between 1960 and 1964, this does indeed have duets with Faron Young and a nice version of "Walk on By," but Singleton's sound is a little bit too sweet to be considered pure country. She's a precise singer, lacking grit but never attempting to conjure some dirt, either. She was happy singing pop covers -- she did a nice version of Jerry Butler's "He Will Break Your Heart" (best known as "He Don't Love You," here called "She Will Break Your Heart") -- and, notably, she sang a version of Joe Meek's "Telstar" called "Magic Star," a move that certainly didn't read country. Nevertheless, Singleton did record with Faron and George Jones, and she wrote some of her own material long before this was commonplace, especially among female country singers, and her Louisiana background was distinctly country. Pledging My Love, on the other hand, sounds like '60s crossover pop -- two steps removed from Patsy Cline, music determined to appeal to a broad audience; music that has a hint of Hollywood peeking around the corners of its Nashville gloss. This slickness is part of its appeal but over the course of 30 tracks, it can get a little cloying, no matter how well it's performed. The most interesting elements of the collection are the songs that play to either extreme: the country duets and the pure pop sides, both redolent of the sound of AM radio in the early '60s, or perhaps a jukebox in a diner somewhere in middle America.
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