Heather Myles

Sweet Talk & Good Lies

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While there are more than a few hardy souls still recording honest-to-goodness country music in the Nash-Vegas era, not many of them are women, so it's a good thing that Heather Myles is around and making records, and her fifth album, Sweet Talk & Good Lies, finds her in typically strong form. Myles' voice is a superb honky tonk instrument, tough but evocative and capable of registering a wealth of emotions, and she and her band have mastered the nuts and bolts of the classic Bakersfield sound without sounding like they've gotten trapped in some sort of retro time warp ("Never Had a Broken Heart" even sounds like it could be a hit if country & western radio was willing to play actual country & western music). If Sweet Talk & Good Lies isn't quite as good as 1998's Highways and Honky Tonks, it's still a great showcase for Myles' gifts as a vocalist and songwriter. While Myles sounds like someone you would not want to mess with on "Sweet Little Dangerous," "Homewrecker Blues," and the title cut, she can let down her guard on "One Man Woman Again" without losing her backbone, and on her cover of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," she manages to find something new in that old chestnut. (Friend and fellow honky tonk enthusiast Dwight Yoakam even pops up to duet on the norteƱo-flavored "Little Chapel.") She's a great singer, a fine songwriter, knows how to make a solid record, and looks real good in a pair of torn jeans -- if Nashville can't figure out what to do with Heather Myles, they deserve everything she gives 'em in "Nashville's Gone Hollywood," while fans who love real country music will want to add this to their personal play list ASAP.

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