The Trouble With the Truth
She’s no trouble at all. Patty Loveless thoroughly deserves a place among the very best of country hitmakers, and The Trouble with the Truth, the follow-up to her CMA award-winning classic When Fallen Angels Fly, is a worthy companion piece to that terrific collection. It proves Loveless to be one of the finest voices ever to record in Nashville, and with the assistance of some top-flight pickers and harmony singers (along with husband-producer Emory Gordy, Jr.), she engages her audience with a strong set of heartache and healing songs.
The toe-tapping “Tear-Stained Letter” opens the album with a Cajun feel, and Loveless sounds like she gives as good as she takes while she tells all about the man who turned her world upside down. It’s desperation at its very sweetest, and she sings the fire out of it. But the album soon reaches deep into the soulful blues that Loveless has mastered. Whether haunted by love’s memory (“I Miss Who I Was With You”) or hurt by the seeming indifference of a former flame (“You Can Feel Bad”), she connects with the material as few artists are able to do. The cause is assisted by the sweet steel guitar and the fiercely powerful fiddle that marks the most traditional tracks, along with the effective use of pop sensibilities that reinvent country music and help create a blend that Loveless can call her own.
Denial and the escape from its grasp is at the heart of The Trouble with the Truth. The album’s core is best demonstrated by the title track, a Gary Nicholson number that’s a ringing endorsement to the cold, hard truth. Loveless’ lovely rendition of the song is a stunning admission of fault and false living. She sings about how the truth has “ruined the taste of the sweetest lies, burned through (her) best alibis,” and every sin is a shadow that is a constant companion at her door, because, after all, the truth “always begs for more”. The song cuts right to the roots of what Loveless aims to do on this album: prove that while the truth can be lonely, it can also be liberating.
And nothing sings of freedom more than “A Thousand Times a Day,” where Loveless aches to break free from the ghost of an old love. Previously recorded by George Jones, it relies on an intelligent hook (“Forgetting you is not that hard to do/I’ve done it a thousand times a day”) and the impressive pipes of its singer. The cigarettes and loneliness, the booze and the burden of her past all join to confront her as demons in the darkest of nights. Pride is at the heart of every pretender, and the stubborn nature of the protagonist grows stronger with every denial. The fiddle cries with an uncommon grief, and Loveless sells it so well as to be a siren for broken hearts everywhere.
But broken hearts need healing, and that’s why the slow, swaying lessons of “Lonely Too Long” are so strong. In the morning-after moments with her one-night stand, Loveless offers kindness and comfort when guilt and shame are such common emotions. In her mind, “nothing’s wrong that can’t be cured with a new love.” Much the same lesson is taught in “To Feel That Way At All,” a ballad about the little miracles found in everyday life and love. Time almost stands still as Loveless croons over a crying guitar, considering those who embrace love to be really lucky “to feel that way at all.”
As usual, Loveless closes the album on a reflective note. With the simply beautiful “Someday I Will Lead the Parade”, she dreams of a day when “all the sweetest times will last/all’s forgiven from the past” and old friends will gather round once again. It’s a thoughtful and hopeful song, a true country music hymn, that acknowledges the struggles of the soul and the beauty when those struggles are overcome. On The Trouble With the Truth, Patty Loveless puts these morals front and center, and it makes for a terrific testament to the craft of country music.
Thank you Blake for another great review of another great Patty Loveless album.
One of my favorites on this album, as well as one of my all time favorite Patty songs, is “Someday I Will Lead the Parade.” Someone on this site once described listening to this song as “religious experience” (Someone else describe “Harlan” that way as well). I completely agree…Patty’s songs in general are soul-nourishing and cathartic. I truly feel as though I have been blessed and cleansed whenever I listen to Patty’s music. Patty Loveless is a faithful and conscientious steward of her God-given talent, and we fans and listeners are the beneficiaries.
It is so refreshing to come to this site and read reviews by writers like Blake, (as well as so many who post here), that are so appreciative and supportive of Patty. Those who really know Country music really tend to love Patty Loveless. This stands in sharp contrast to the shameful neglect of Patty’s music by Country Radio and TV in the past several years. Hopefully this neglect will change to enthusiastic embrace once again, with the release of SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. There are hopeful signs already, but the Country music media (and market) have much to make up for. Let the atonement begin.
-Steve from Boston
One of several “tingly” moments on this album: Vince Gill’s harmony vocal on “A Thousand Times A Day”.
Oh and to echo the thoughts above, the entire “Someday I Will Lead The Parade”
Just so everyone knows, I didn’t pay peter to say that.:) Really!
Another great Loveless album! Great review too.
Thanks for a reason to pull this album back out. I am ashamed to say that my copy of this has been on the shelf collecting dust for months and months now, but I am listening to it as we speak. I really love the song ‘Who I Was With You’ and ‘A Thousand Times A Day’ is as good as any song ever written …
Oh, and I am really loving this feature too!