Mickey Newbury

Lovers

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    6
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Given the sadness, melancholy, and even grief expressed on his earlier recordings, Newbury's familiarity with the shadow side of the soul is well-known, but none of his recordings cuts such a deep furrow into pain, pessimism, heartbreak, and futile longing as Lovers. Newbury plays more styles than one can shake a stick at on Lovers. It's as if he's trying, through hard country, blues, gospel, R&B, lounge jazz, folk balladry, and even rock, to plead, beg, borrow, and scheme his way (apparently unsuccessfully) from under the bleak cloud that surrounds him. Hell, you gotta give the guy credit for even trying. The album opens with yet another Newbury trilogy, the epic "Apples Dipped in Candy," coming out stomping in a country-rock manner reminiscent of Waylon Jennings. With a narrative so tense and full of pain, Newbury literally barely makes it through the title cut; the crack and pauses are all left in. The string arrangement assures there won't be a dry eye in the house. This track, and in fact the entire album, are on a par with Frank Sinatra's '50s classic, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." Then comes "Sail Away," a brief respite, where the singer of these songs summons his courage for one more attempt at optimism. It's a beautiful country ballad, but it's short-lived, as "When Do We Stop Starting Over" bares its mournful honky tonk heart. The only other glimmer of hope that comes from these sides happens on the gospel tune "Lead On." As solid as Lovers is, it still failed to ignite on the chart level. It was greeted with indifference by radio and, hence, Elektra -- which had believed and invested in Newbury's creative vision and proven credibility as a songwriter -- let him go.

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