Trisha Yearwood

The Song Remembers When

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1995's The Song Remembers When is another chapter in the ongoing collaboration between Trisha Yearwood and producer Garth Fundis. Where 1993's Hearts in Armor was a cathartic masterpiece that broke Yearwood worldwide, this record is straighter down the contemporary country lane. As usual, the material is top-notch no matter where the pair get it from. Whether the tunes come from stalwarts like Kostas, Rodney Crowell, and Willie Nelson, or relative unknowns like the phenomenal Kimmie Rhodes, this ten-song set delivers the same drama and tension with glorious, transcendent singing from Yearwood. The title-cut opener is a reverie of innocent love gone bad, recalled at a retail store counter while receiving change. Mid-tempo ballads are a Yearwood strength, and she delivers tough and true. Next, "Better Your Heart Than Mine," written by almost-country-chanteuse Lisa Angelle and pop washout Andrew Gold, is a beautiful twining of Bonnie Raitt-styled R&B, roots rock, and neo-traditionalist country with some killer guitar playing by the great Steuart Smith. Rodney Crowell backs Yearwood on his "I Don't Fall in Love So Easy"; it's one of those beautiful country songs that almost isn't. Crowell has always been able to walk the pop-country borderline, and in Yearwood's voice he has found the perfect vocalist to execute his vision. She sings the hell out of a slick little downtempo rocker by making it sound like it's the easiest song in the world to deliver honestly. Nelson not only contributes a tune here, but he guests both in duet and backing vocalist capacities on his own "One in a Row" and Rhodes' "Hard Promises to Keep." His presence adds real depth and dimension here because his thin, reedy voice stands in such sharp contrast to Yearwood's full-throated one. "Here Comes Temptation" by Kostas is one of those groovy little pop numbers that touches on the kind of '60s pop that came from Doc Pomus and Phil Spector crossed through the heart by a contemporary Nash Vegas feel; its glitzy surface covered by a sheen of sweet soul even if it is accompanied by a pedal steel. The disc closes with Matraca Berg's "Lying to the Moon." Accompanied only by her band, Yearwood takes a pop song and turns it into a country song with the ripped-up heart that comes in the grain of her voice. It's poetry, this combination of singer and song. She couldn't sing it any better if she'd written it; the accents create tension and drama and images from every betrayed-lover's movie from the '40s on, washing through the mix. Only a real singer can deliver the image from the heart of the song. Yearwood here is the heart of the song itself.

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