No one ever sang a cheatin' song better than Kitty Wells, and this collection of her peak-period material (25 songs recorded for Decca between 1952 and 1965) is as good an introduction as one could ask for to one of country & western's seminal artists. Wells was one of Nashville's first major female stars, and if she often sang as a wife who strayed, she also gave a voice to every woman who had been led into shame by a no-good man, and her strong, rich voice was the perfect instrument for a gal wrestling with the shame, remorse, and anger of infidelity. And while Wells could take the grief, she could also dish it out; "Will Your Lawyer Talk to God," in particular, is possessed of a righteous wrath the Louvin Brothers would have envied. The earlier sides on this disc (especially her first hits "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" and "Paying for That Back Street Affair") are tough, flinty honky tonk at its best, with Wells' superb vocals buoyed by great (though unfortunately uncredited) fiddle and steel guitar accompaniment, and while the later selections are arranged and produced in a manner more befitting the countrypolitan slant of the day, Wells' performances are as tough and pure as ever, and she's a joy to listen to throughout. While the sheer breadth of Kitty Wells' career would prevent any single-disc collection from being definitive, as an overview of her most important period, God's Honky Tonk Angel is an ideal starting place.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming