Kimmie Rhodes

Love Me Like a Song

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There was a time when Kimmie Rhodes was comfortably ensconced in the country genre. In fact, her early music was downright honky tonk at times, occasionally making further diversions into Tex-Mex and Western swing -- about as hardcore country & western as it gets, in other words. But that phase had long since passed by the time the sumptuous Rich From the Journey was released. The album was country in only the most tangential way, and only if you coerced it into the category. Rhodes does sonically inch back toward the country fold somewhat on Love Me Like a Song, which should more than satisfy those who missed that aspect of the singer/songwriter's music on the previous effort. Fellow mavericks and spiritual forebears Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris even make a pair of guest spots apiece, each wonderful, particularly the former's turn on the gorgeous "We've Done This Before" and the latter's on the gospel-flecked "Send Me the Sun," also featuring Beth Nielsen Chapman. And yet rigidly labeling her sound no longer does Rhodes' art justice. More than anything, she is about songs, plain and simple, and this album contains a tremendously well-written set of them. Although there are fewer atmospheric washes of electric keyboards, there is healthy carryover from Rich From the Journey, particularly in the delicate, airy melodies and the sense of rebirth and contentment that imbues the lyrics, most affectingly so on "Darkness Lifting" and "The One to Walk You Home" (another duet, this time with Benmont Tench). Nevertheless, the overall sound, again produced by son Gabe Rhodes, has a shade more punch and transparency, a bit more of the Austin lope here (the worldly-wise "Witness to the Crime") and a return to electrically bluesy sass there ("Midnight Song"). The songwriter also strikes out into enchanting new landscapes with "Play Me a Memory," an honest to goodness show tune done Broadway style, and the Eastern European eccentricities of "Louis' World" and "November December." All further evidence of why Kimmie Rhodes is one of the secret treasures of Texas song.

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