Long Line of Heartaches
[Sugar Hill (2011)]
Although Connie Smith was one of the best and most successful country singers of her generation, she has mostly stayed away from recording studios in recent decades. This new album is raising her profile once again while reminding country music fans of what they’ve been missing.
Smith’s debut single, a song called “Once a Day,” made her an instant star in 1964. Besides being the first debut single by a female country singer to make it to number one, the song made history by remaining in that position for eight weeks, a record that has never been broken. After a slew of hits and awards and three dozen albums or so Smith seemed to drop out of sight in the late 1970s. In 1997 she teamed up with Marty Stuart to write songs for her self-titled comeback album and the two ended up getting married. Now, thirteen years later, her husband has produced what could be called her second comeback album. At 70, Smith is still a convincing singer who doesn’t feel the need to modernize her sound.
Five of the songs, including the title track, were co-written with Marty Stuart. The other seven songs come from the pens of such respected writers as Johnny Russell (“Ain’t You Even Gonna Cry”), Harlan Howard and Kostas (“I Don’t Believe That’s How You Feel”), and Roy Drusky (“Anymore”). The great Dallas Frazier, whose songs were practically ubiquitous in the Connie Smith discography but who retired from songwriting three decades ago, came up with a new song called “A Heart Like You,” and it’s one of the album’s highlights along with the album’s title track. In keeping with the singer’s tradition, she closes the album with a hymn and, for the first time, her three daughters provide harmonies. The album was recorded with a basic combo in four days at RCA’s Studio B, just like in the halcyon days of old. Everything about the album conjures up the golden age of honky-tonk. Long Line of Heartaches can be recommended without hesitation to fans of classic country.
—Paul-Emile Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)