Connie Smith is perhaps the only female singer in the history of country music who can truly claim to be the heiress to Patsy Cline's throne. It's not that there aren't many amazing vocalists in the field, and plenty of legends among them. But in terms of the pure gift of interpretation of taking virtually any song and making it a country song of class and distinction, Smith is it. This collection, which covers the first eight years of her career from 1964, when she was "discovered" by Bill Anderson, to the turn of that decade in 1972, includes 20 tracks of pure honey and silk. Smith, who hails from Ohio, may not have the pedigree of Loretta Lynn or Tammy Wynette, but she nonetheless possesses that mercurial "thing" that Cline did: the ability to take the most blatantly country & western song and turn it into a thing that does not betray itself, yet has plenty of urban pop appeal. Here are the hits, "Once a Day," "Cry, Cry, Cry," "Burning a Hole in My Mind," "Just One Time," "I Never Once Stopped Loving You," "The Hurtin's All Over," "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)," and the amazing "Ribbon of Darkness" among them. The set ends with the great standard "How Great Thou Art," which is mindblowing in its rousing spirit. With classic production by Anderson and Bob Ferguson, this is one of the best collections in the RCA Essential series to come down the pike. The only problem is that once heard, the listener will be scouring the bins of used vinyl stores for all of Smith's classics.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek