Vince Gill, The Way Back Home

Vince Gill
The Way Back Home

1987

Vince Gill’s third and last album for RCA is his best for the label. It even contained a few moderate hits. With this album, the production becomes more interesting and we hear Vince really coming into his own as a humorist, songwriter and vocalist. Moreover, since The Way Back Home is still before his wave of success, this album reveals the angst of a man who is struggling to succeed in the same business in which his then wife, Janis Gill of Sweethearts Of The Rodeo, is thriving, which is a theme that will be visited on two out of the album’s nine tracks.

While the title track is earnestly heavy, appealing for help for missing children, the opening song is an up tempo, toe tapping romper that displays Vince’s humor to full effect. “Everybody’s Sweetheart” is a tongue and cheek take on how it feels to be the trophy husband of a superstar. Playing on the name of his wife’s duo, he sings: “She’s everybody’s sweetheart/Everybody’s sweetheart but mine/Should’ve kept her barefoot/barefoot and pregnant all the time/I used to be the first in line/Now I’m fallin’ way behind/She’s everybody’s sweetheart/Everybody’s sweetheart but mine.”

“Let’s Do Something” is another toe tapper from the perspective of a teenage boy who balks against the disapproval of his girlfriend’s father. With some defiance he implores her to elope with him: “Let’s do somethin’/Sneak out your bedroom window/Girl, we’ll be gone/Let’s do something’/Baby, let’s do somethin’ even if it’s wrong.” Bolstered by prominent backing vocals from Bonnie Raitt, the song captures the innocent excitement of this irresponsible kid so well that it’s difficult not to root for him just a little. Unfortunately, the song’s charm is almost ruined at the end by a high pitched screeching noise from Vince that is supposed to represent carefree exuberance, but in reality only elicits a shudder from the listener.

While Vince hadn’t completely left the sounds of the eighties with this album, as evidenced by “Loosing Your Love” and the intense performance and production on the album closer “Something’s Missing”, there are a couple of songs with more rootsy productions than what could be found on his first two albums. “Cinderella” has a bluegrass tinge while “Baby, That’s Tough”, which was co written by Gill with Guy Clark, is driven by engaging acoustic guitar work. The latter song also features amusing background vocals that would fit nicely on an Elvis record.

Although there is plenty of fun and energy on this record, the highlight of the album is the gorgeous and intimate “The Radio”, which more directly and honestly revisits the struggles expressed in “Everybody’s Sweetheart.” With the added element of the fact that Gill was attempting to build a successful career at the same time that Janis had already achieved success, the song is even more poignant. While “It does {his} heart good to see {her} shine”, it’s hard for him to have to feel her companionship by hearing her on the radio: “We’re so far apart/This old highway ain’t home/When the heartache starts/I just turn the radio on.”

The Way Back Home, produced by Emory Gordy JR., far outshines Vince Gill’s first RCA effort, but it doesn’t quite reach the caliber of his succeeding albums with MCA. There are still traces of a dated production, but it is nevertheless a quality album with more than a few strong compositions that rightfully deserve recognition.

Be Sociable, Share!

4 Comments

Filed under Album Reviews

4 Responses to Vince Gill, The Way Back Home

  1. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar

    I only have passing familiarity with this album, to be honest, but I think you are right on the money with your review. Well done!

  2. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar

    I have never heard this album – or really any of Vince’s work between Pure Prairie League and his MCA stardom. Now I have to go check it out … Thanks, LeeAnn.

  3. Y’know I never gave this album a shot even though I always wanted to get it. I’ve been a VG fan since I’ve been a country fan. I should seek this one out at the used store :)

  4. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Cool! That’s the point of these reviews! It’s easy to overlook some of these lesser known or older albums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This site is using OpenAvatar based on