Jean Shepard

Lonesome Love/This Is Jean Shepard

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Two late-'50s albums by Jean Shepard, 1958's Lonesome Love and 1959's This Is Jean Shepard, are combined onto one CD on this 24-track collection. Actually, the material spans the mid-'50s to the end of the decade, since This Is Jean Shepard contained singles dating back as early as a few years before the LP's release, including the 1955 hits "Beautiful Lies" and "A Satisfied Mind." While this wasn't Shepard's most commercially successful period, artistically it was another matter, as she proved her mettle as one of the finest commercial honky tonk singers of the era. On Lonesome Love's material in particular, the honky tonk sound was updated with satisfying injections of pop and even, especially on "Sweet Temptation" and Bill Monroe's "I Love You Because," some rock & roll. It's hard to believe that anyone who likes early Brenda Lee and Patsy Cline won't like this stuff, though Shepard (not to her detriment) has a more even-tempered delivery than either of those two stars. Because it does include material from an earlier era (though the LP was released later), This Is Jean Shepard is more traditional in mood, though not radically so. Though it's more identified with Porter Wagoner, Shepard's hit rendition of "A Satisfied Mind" does justice to the country classic. "Crying Steel Guitar" (which features just that) is about as straight a ballad as Lonesome Love presented, with most of the other songs offering good straight-ahead honky tonk with the kind of stoic rebukes, laments, and whoop-it-ups intrinsic to the style. There might be better and wider-spanning Shepard compilations, but as a disc with a lot of good cuts from the second half of the 1950s in one place, it'll do fine for most listeners who want a collection of her material from the period.

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