For much of the '90s, it seemed as if Linda Ronstadt was avoiding pop music. She recorded only two pop albums, 1994's Winter Light and 1995's Feels Like Home, which seemed like diversions from the Latin and children's records that were occupying her time. In 1998, she returned with We Ran, a full-fledged pop comeback produced by Glyn Johns (George Massenberg, Peter Asher, and Waddy Wachtel also produced a handful of songs) and featuring support from such '70s soft rock stalwarts as Waddy Wachtel and Bernie Leadon, as well as Heartbreakers Mike Campbell, Howie Epstein, and Benmont Tench. The pedigree is in place, leaving it up to Ronstadt and her songs to deliver the goods, which, more often than not, she does. Her voice remains strong and surprisingly robust, and her choice of songs, while not surprising, is quite satisfying. There are a couple of cuts that are a little bland and others, such as Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," aren't suited for her polished delivery, but most of the album is quite enjoyable. It's nice to hear Ronstadt tackle classics like "Ruler of My Heart," but the moments of We Ran that truly capture the spirit of Heart Like a Wheel are when she tries contemporary songs like John Hiatt's "Icy Blue Heart"and Bruce Springsteen's "If I Should Fall Behind." Granted, Hiatt and Springsteen are predictable choices -- she could have been more adventurous and sought out songs by such '90s songwriters as Ron Sexsmith or Aimee Mann -- but they are just contemporary enough to help make We Ran a successful update of her classic '70s sound.
We Ran Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine