My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘My Turn’

tanya_tucker_my_turn-200After seven long years, Tanya Tucker is finally back with My Turn , a collection of covers of classic country songs, recorded as a tribute to her late father and mentor, Beau Tucker. This album is different from anything Tanya has done in the past. We’ve never heard her sound so “retro” before, and it struck me that aside from the common knowledge that Tucker is a huge Elvis, Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn fan, we haven’t heard a lot about her musical influences, up to now. Unlike her contemporaries Lorrie Morgan and Patty Loveless, she’s never made a habit of including a classic cover or two on her albums. My Turn , therefore, gives us a rare insight into the music that influenced this country legend who has been a presence on the country charts for nearly 40 years.

Teaming up with producer Pete Anderson, Tucker chose mostly songs that were favorites of her late father, and wisely avoided songs that have been covered countless times by others, the exception being “Crazy Arms”. I was surprised to see this song included in the track listing, since it was recently covered by Tucker’s Saguaro Road labelmate Patty Loveless. But while Loveless’ version is drenched with a wailing steel guitar and her trademark “mountain siren” vocals, Tucker takes a much more understated approach that is closer to the Ray Price original.

I was already very familiar with all of the songs, except for the opening track “Wine Me Up.” Originally a hit for Faron Young in 1969, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s followed by a version of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” that is very faithful to the original, and Buck Owens’ “Love’s Gonna Live Here” featuring guest vocals from Jim Lauderdale. “Love’s Gonna Live Here” is the lead single from the album, and was previously reviewed here at My Kind of Country.

“After The Fire Is Gone” was the Grammy Award-winning first duet by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn back in 1970. Tucker and Pete Anderson wanted Billy Ray Cyrus to be Tanya’s duet partner, but mercifully he was unavailable and Tucker is joined instead by The Grascals, who provide the harmony vocals.

One of the great difficulties in remaking classic songs is finding a way to pay homage to the original artists, while still finding a way to put one’s own twist on the songs. Tucker and Anderson decided to add a Tex-Mex flavor — which works surprisingly well — to Charley Pride’s “Is Anybody Going To San Antone,” which features Flaco Jimenez playing the accordian. Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me” and Wynn Stewart’s “Big, Big Love” are given similar treatment, with the legendary Jo-El Sonnier providing the accordian tracks on the latter.

The highlights of the album are “I Love You A Thousand Ways” and “Walk Through This World With Me”, which were hits for Lefty Frizzell and George Jones respectively. Tanya’s vocals are stellar and drenched with emotion on both tracks. She likewise does justice to Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever”, which closes the album. Though not one of the Hag’s better remembered tunes, the theme is perfect for the free spirit that is Tanya Tucker. Tucker has always been a huge Haggard fan, and according to her autobiography, Merle would have welcomed the chance to be more than just friends. He wrote his 1983 hit “What Am I Gonna Do (With The Rest Of My Life”) about her.

I was slightly disappointed in “You Don’t Know Me”. Although Tanya pours her heart and soul into this Eddy Arnold classic, Rhonda Vincent’s harmony vocals are somewhat overbearing and detract from, rather than enhance, the song. I’m a great admirer of Vincent’s solo work, but with her bluegrass background, she seems like an odd choice for the sole countrypolitan song on this album. This track would benefit greatly from a remixing without the harmony vocals. Tucker’s heartfelt vocal performance is strong enough that it could have stood on its own. Overall, however, this is a minor production misstep, which is easily forgiven because the rest of the album is so good.

This collaboration between Tucker and Saguaro Road is supposed to be a one-time deal, but the results are so satisfying, I’m hoping that they’ll team up for another project and that we won’t have to wait another seven years for it.

Grade: A

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9 responses to “Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘My Turn’

  1. J.R. Journey June 22, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I’m really liking this album so far. I don’t normally like covers album this much, but Tanya’s spin on these classics are just as good (and better in some cases) than the original recordings and she injects them all with her unique personality and trademark vocals. My favorite tracks so far are ‘After The Fire Is Gone’ and ‘Walk Through This World With Me’.

    My Turn will definitely make my year-end list.

  2. Chris June 22, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve listened to the first 4 tracks so far, and I like it! Now I’m listening to Rhonda Vincent, so I’ll finish Tanya’s album later…

  3. Dee June 23, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    That was an excellent and insightful review….. I haven’t heard all of the songs quite yet, but I have heard “Walk Through This World With Me” and “Wine Me Up” so I have to agree.

  4. Hubba June 25, 2009 at 1:38 am

    you’d never heard “Wine Me Up?” Shame on you!

  5. Goranp July 29, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Been a fan of Tanya for many years and this album came as a big surprise. And what a great surprise! Every song stands out as a masterpiece and in my opinion it´s one of the best records she´s ever made. 10 points out of 10!!!

  6. Paul W Dennis July 29, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Great album – I think she misfired on “Lovesick Blues” but other than that this album is terrific. I loved hearing Jim Lauderdale take a turn with her on “Love’s Gonna Live Here”. Tanya’s take on “Is Anybody Going To San Antone” is very similar to the way Doug Sahm (both solo, and later as a Texas Tornado) performed it – logically enough since Sahm usually had Flaco with him

  7. Pingback: The year of the tribute « My Kind Of Country

  8. Aussie country girl August 18, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Love this album and even though I live in Australia I loove Tanya Tucker’s music. I still listen to this one today.

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