Because Mary Kay Place played a main character on the late 1970s soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman -- which was actually a parody of soap operas -- country critics dismissed this LP as a novelty item. And to a degree, it is. On Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Place played a country singer named Loretta Haggers who was a close friend of the main character Mary Hartman (played by Louise Lasser). Haggers' hit was a cute number titled "Baby Boy," and the Place original became a country hit in real life when Columbia released it as a single. Some Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman fans bought this Grammy-nominated LP out of curiosity, while country reviewers had a hard time taking Place seriously. But, in fact, this isn't a bad album. No, Place isn't in a class with Dolly Parton (a major influence), Tammy Wynette, or Loretta Lynn, but her somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach is still fun on cuts that range from Parton's "All I Can Do" to the Hank Williams hit "Settin' the Woods on Fire." Most of the songs are secular, although Place detours into country gospel on "Have a Little Talk With Jesus" and the traditional "Good Old Country Baptizin'." Some of country-pop's heavy hitters are employed as background singers, including Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Anne Murray. If you take this album for what it is instead of having excessively high expectations, it isn't a bad listen.
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