My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Patsy Cline – ‘Sentimentally Yours’

Sentimentally Yours was the second full-length album of Patsy Cline recordings released by the Decca label, and her third overall.  After its release in August of 1962, it would hold the distinction of being her final album released in her lifetime.  Producer Owen Bradley had made no secret of his ambition to make Patsy a pop star, as well as having country hits with her.  The virtuoso did just that when he was finally able to ink Cline to a contract with Decca.  The resulting first album, Showcase, spawned two quintessential American standards with the hits ‘I Fall to Pieces’ and the sublime ‘Crazy’.  Their success on the popular music charts had made Cline a star beyond Nashville and Sentimentally Yours, a collection of mostly cover songs made famous by the pop singers of the day, aimed at continuing that success.

The only two new songs on the album were the single ‘She’s Got You’ and its B-side ‘Strange’.  The former was Patsy’s second and final #1 on the Country Singles chart, known then as How C&W Sides.  ‘She’s Got You’ also went to #14 on the U.S. Pop chart and was her first charting hit in the U.K., peaking at #43 in the nation.  Writer Hank Cochran pitched the song to Patsy at her house one night in late 1961.  Patsy loved the song and recorded it at her next session.  Bradley employed The Jordanaires as backing singers again, and a jazzy piano provided by Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins accompanies Patsy’s own sweeping vocals.  It’s been re-recorded several times over the years, most notably by Loretta Lynn, who had a #1 hit with the song in 1977 as a single from the I Remember Patsy tribute album.

Mel Tillis and Fred Burch wrote ‘Strange.  The kiss-off number is an interesting listen in itself with its almost-calypso beat.  Patsy’s singing is more restrained on this.  I get the impression she wasn’t close enough to the microphone or wasn’t belting it out like she usually did.  From these two originals, we are treated to Patsy’s interpretation of ten standards.

‘Heartaches’ has literally been recorded by dozens of singers since it was published in 1931.  Its inclusion in the Great American Songbook is understandable, with its choppy yet catchy melody.  This tale of a broken-hearted narrator sounds believable from Cline, as almost any tale of melancholy does.  It was released as a pop single in the States, but faltered at #73.  Meanwhile, the track became Patsy’s first overseas top 40 hit, peaking at #31 on the U.K. pop chart.  After this hit, the album cover was changed to include the text “and featuring ‘Heartaches” on later pressings.

Patsy’s take on Hank Williams’ ‘Your Cheating Heart’ is one of the standouts here.  Lending a female perspective to the immortal lyrics, Patsy puts her own stamp on the song.  I could do without the melody singers so loud in the mix.  This gives the track a bit of a dated feel, but the central focus is squarely on Patsy’s own singing on this track.  Rightly so.

Another Hank Williams cut appears near the end of the album in ‘I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)’.  A faint harmonica, provided by Charlie McCoy, compliments the simple arrangement.  Patsy Cline brilliantly singing a Hank Williams song, this is a sublime moment in recorded music.

Eddy Arnold is one of many artists to record ‘Anytime’, which is very much a pop song in every sense.  The string-laden verses on the version here bring to mind the big band music from the 1940s.  Patsy gives a very feminine, almost sensual, interpretation to the lyrics, again making her performance the most interesting part of the recording.

The torch-style ballad ‘You Belong To Me’, with its doo-wop backing vocals isn’t really my style.  Still, I can hear its merits when I listen to the recording.  The lyrics paint a picture of a woman imagining her lover in many faraway places.  I would think this theme fit perfectly with post-war America in the 1940s, and still held true for the Cold War.

A third Hank Williams cover, ‘Half As Much’ is my favorite from the set.  Its laid-back feel and smooth melody are very engaging.  Curley Williams wrote the song, which was a hit for Hank Williams on the country chart in 1952, and also a #1 pop hit for Rosemary Clooney the same year.  Patsy’s version wasn’t released, and therefore didn’t chart, but I prefer it to any of the others.

The disc closes with another moody number.  ‘Lonely Street’ is a blunt narrative about a woman searching for a place to shed her tears.  The downtrodden role had already become Patsy Cline’s strong spot vocally, and this another example of that.

With Sentimentally Yours, Owen Bradley and Patsy Cline set their sights squarely on continued crossover success.  With the singles from the album, they accomplished that.  I can’t help but think a more honky-tonk sound would have been just as enjoyable, but certainly Patsy could hold her own with the best vocalists in any genre, and this album of mostly pop standards is a testament to that.

Grade: B+

Sentimentally Yours has been re-released several times since its original release, and CD copies are inexpensive.  All the songs are available digitally from Amazon, as with most of Patsy’s Decca material.

2 responses to “Album Review: Patsy Cline – ‘Sentimentally Yours’

  1. Razor X January 19, 2010 at 11:02 am

    In 1962, singles outsold albums by a large margin. Billboard did not even publish a country albums chart until 1964. I’m guessing that pop fans of the day were more likely to buy albums than country fans were — just as today’s country fans, by most accounts, are lagging behind pop fans with digital download purchases. The marketing of this album seems to reflect that. The strategy seems to have been to release singles for the country market and albums for the pop fans.

    Despite the heavy pop leanings, I like this album a lot. I’ve never listened to much pop, but I do tend to prefer traditional, pre-rock and roll style pop to what came after it. And Patsy really nails all of these songs.

  2. ReCliner Sean February 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Great page! Check out my Patsy Site. I have this LP Chart listed as well as a Sentimentally yours Page!

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