Ronnie Milsap

Pure Love

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Ronnie Milsap had been paying dues as a session musician before cutting a record in 1971 for Warner Bros. that promptly made little impact. Three years later, he moved from Memphis to Nashville, signed with RCA, and released Pure Love. It was kind of like his second debut, a record that found Milsap carving out his own musical identity -- one that brought him to the top of the country charts. Taking cues from Elvis Presley and Charlie Rich (Milsap's cover of "Behind Closed Doors" is a revelation for anyone unfamiliar with his earlier work, since the Rich influence is present throughout Milsap's work), Milsap had a warm, friendly croon and an easy delivery to his music, which made it easy to overlook the hints of soul, gospel, and pop in his music. That's because his mellow country-pop was so relaxed, it simply seemed to exist without any effort. His music only got easier over the years, but on Pure Love, it still had a solid country foundation; while it never had grit, it did have weight and it felt like country music. He also had one of his strongest sets of songs, highlighted by the singles "Pure Love" and "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends," but running deeper than that, thanks to songs like "My Love Is Deep, My Love Is Wide" and "Blue Ridge Mountains Turnin' Green." Milsap may have been sweeter and more romantic than even other country-pop crooners of the '70s, but it made from some good easy listening, and it was rarely better than it was on Pure Love.

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