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COUNTRY MUSIC REVIEW : Loveless Left Pointless as Emotions Elude Her

As Patty Loveless was singing Monday night at the Crazy Horse Steak House and Saloon, more than a couple of gentlemen in the audience looked at the down-home-glamorous lass and shouted: “You’re beautiful!” Between that and the ring on her finger, one would guess that hers is not entirely the most apt of names. But there was something lacking in Loveless’ enjoyable--but nearly entirely forgettable--80 minutes of country-lite.

The late Buddy Rich, if memory serves, referred to country as “the sound of ignorance,” and within the limited confines of his purview, he may have had a point. Most country music is simple stuff, with neither lyrics nor notes generally requiring a degree in think-ology. But, perhaps because he had no particular flair for it himself, Rich never realized that the music could contain a wealth of understanding and expression about the human condition. Within its simple framework can be shadings and inflections as illuminating as any rarefied music.

Those personalizing details were missing from Loveless’ show. The Kentucky native seemed earnest in her delivery and displayed a capable voice in her 18-song set. Actually, it may have been those songs, more than a lack of emotion on Loveless’ part, that hampered things.

Drawn from her three albums and a pending new one, most of the tunes sounded as if they had been glopped out of the same Nashville Jell-O mold, being indistinguishable and not much to bite into. Among these were “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights”; the recent single, “The Lonely Side of Love”; the mock-rock “Blue Side of Town”; the new “Blue Memories,” and the hit “Timber, I’m Falling in Love.” Far removed from country’s grit, the latter’s lyrics (“Right time, right place / Right body, right face”) would have sounded inane even in a ‘70s disco.

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Though still several dry counties removed from the emotional landscape Kathy Mattea had explored on the Crazy Horse stage the previous Monday, a few songs indicated that Loveless could develop a more individual voice. She has a strong upper register, and when she let her high notes fly freer on “The Night’s Too Long” and the bluegrass ballad “Slow Healing Heart,” they came close to soaring. Loveless’ finest moment came during “Baby’s Gone Blues,” a moody atmospheric number that she infused with a melancholy ache nearly worthy of Don Everly.


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