Connie Smith

The Cry of the Heart

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The Cry of the Heart Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Connie Smith took her time to deliver The Cry of the Heart, the third album she's made in collaboration with her longtime husband, Marty Stuart. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the record arrived in 2021, precisely ten years after Long Line of Heartaches and in a year where Connie Smith turned 80. Smith never sounds her age on The Cry of the Heart, nor does she sound like she cares a thing for fashion: it's an old-fashioned country album by design, a tight 30 minutes of hardwood honky tonk anthems and barroom weepers, all delivered without fuss but plenty of flair. The impetus for the album was the arrival of "I Just Don't Believe Me Anymore," a new song by the great retired songwriter Dallas Frazier, a composer Smith has recorded many times over the years. Smith and Stuart built The Cry of the Heart around the tune, digging up old gems by Carl Jackson ("To Pieces," "I'm Not Over You"), Merle Haggard ("Jesus, Take a Hold"), Ned Miller ("Heart, We Did All That We Could"), and Mel Tillis ("All the Time"), then pairing them with new originals. There's not a bad tune in the batch and, better still, Smith sounds vigorous and vibrant. Maybe her range has diminished, but her mastery of phrasing has not -- she digs into the heart of the songs, infusing them with style and emotion that resonates.

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