LeAnn Rimes, ‘Lady and Gentlemen’ – Album Review
LeAnn Rimes‘ new album is a sincere tribute to the most influential men in country music. On ‘Lady and Gentlemen’ she doesn’t just cover their songs, she takes on their most well known work. Few men have attempted to re-record hits like ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ by George Jones, and yet here’s little 29-year-old LeAnn Rimes, belting it out like her life depended on it.
Rimes goes after each song with everything she has to offer. She manages to create a few brilliant recreations that potentially could bring a batch of slowly dying classics to a new generation of country listeners. The ballads are most convincing. On Jones’ hit, she matches the original’s desolate delivery while not getting too creative with her own touches. She’s equally good on Merle Haggard‘s ‘I Can’t Be Myself’ and the Kris Kristofferson (or Sammi Smith, if you’d rather) song ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night.”
She’s not quite able to do the more rambunctious and trouble-making outlaw country favorites with as much justice, however. The beauty in songs like Waylon Jennings‘ ‘Only Mama That Will Walk The Line’ and Jennings and Willie Nelson‘s ‘Good Hearted Woman’ was in their imperfection. Like the singers, these songs had scars that Rimes’ beautiful voice isn’t able to duplicate.
A few songs on the album are curious choices, including the one female “classic,” her own 1996 hit ‘Blue.’ But it’s the songs that take on a broken relationship the cause anyone familiar with her well-documented and sensational divorce and marriage to Eddie Cibrian to focus once again on the singer and not the song. If one believes only a small portion of what he or she reads, then she’s singing Vince Gill‘s ‘When I Call Your Name’ from the exact opposite perspective of where she was in her breakup.
These things don’t matter in an album review, but they do in the eye of public opinion. It’d be great if everyone could forget her personal drama and focus on her wonderful music and charitable efforts, but in more ways than one Rimes won’t let us. In all honesty, anyone turned off to the singer for these reasons hasn’t gotten this far into this review. Those who did should know that there’s plenty more good than average on ‘Lady and Gentlemen’ (including a Tennessee Ernie Ford cover that only Rimes could put together), and there will be few regrets if it finds its way onto your iPod.