Johnny Paycheck

Someone to Give My Love To/Somebody Loves Me

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Hux combined Johnny Paycheck's two 1972 albums Someone to Give My Love To and Somebody Loves Me for this 2010 two-fer. Someone to Give My Love To followed Paycheck's commercial breakthrough She's All I Got so, unsurprisingly, producer Billy Sherrill made a natural decision to double-down on smoothness on this sequel, even letting the scales tip toward sunniness on occasion. It's a little odd to hear the haunted auteur of "(Pardon Me) I've Got Someone to Kill" sing the chirpy "Smile, Somebody Loves You," but peerless vocalist that he is, he never hesitates or stumbles, he simply sells the song. So it is throughout Someone to Give My Love To, an easy-rolling romantic record where there's nary a broken heart and the concluding "It's Only a Matter of Wine" barely registers as a drinking lament, even if it's prefaced by Paycheck declaring it "one for the boys," a tacit admission that the rest of the record is for the ladies. And so it is: it's a collection of love songs, including the Beatles' "Something," and pop tunes that could cross over to AM radio, all decidedly lacking in Paycheck's grit but fueled by his considerable charm. Somebody Loves Me is cut from the same cloth as Someone to Give My Love To, containing the same mix of love songs and crossover-ready country-pop, bearing a title that's nearly identical. If anything, Billy Sherrill's spangly production sparkles brighter here, with string sections vying with the Jordanaires for support, brass sections punctuating hooks, tempos bouncing along with relentless cheer. Paycheck sings no less than two Neil Diamond songs, not finding much to do with "Song Sung Blue" but sounding assured on "Life Can Be Beautiful." That easy assurance is the hallmark of these early-'70s records Paycheck made with Sherrill: Paycheck is relaxed and confident, draped in satin and polyester, singing songs unusually sunny for him. It may not be his grittiest work, but there's certainly an appeal in hearing this legend sing so smooth.

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