Tammy Wynette

One of a Kind

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The team of Tammy Wynette and Billy Sherrill was incomparable. In 1977 at the dawn of the urban drugstore cowboy phenomenon, Wynette was still making classic countrypolitan records with Sherrill and would continue to until they parted company and she began working with future husband-producer George Richey. One of a Kind is of those classy classic records they made together. Wynette was, at that point, a true diva and country music's reigning queen -- and for good reason. With her inspired performances on songs of virtually every stripe, from the simple acoustic-flavored rags to the wished-for love story of "That's the Way It Could Have Been," to the soaring, regal citified country of "Love Survived" with its cascading strings, transcendent chorus, and shattering crescendos, to the wondrous honky tonk innuendo of "Heaven Is Just a Sin Away," and the brazen and beautiful "I'll Be Your Bridge (Just Lay Me Down)," the performances are just awe inspiring. After these two tracks the album closes with a typical Sherrill cipher: the slightly corny "Dear Daughters," which features mom having a spoken heart-to-heart with four girls whose lives she's either missed or is missing because of being on the road. There is no apology, but it's implied and it's a completely owning of the life Wynette had chosen. There's real regret here no matter how couched in lush strings and the Nashville Edition's sweet, wordless backing vocals, and that somehow makes the entire album make a different kind of sense, one that recognizes that even though there are dire consequences made for some decisions they often need to be made anyway. 1977 was the year the Sex Pistols screamed onto the scene with a whole, bleak new way of looking at the world; it was also the year Wynette released one of her finest albums and kept the spirit of the old one firmly in mind.

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