My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Trisha Yearwood – ‘Inside Out’

In 2001, Trisha took another break from working with Garth Fundis, choosing to co-produce Inside Out with Mark Wright. It is one of her most pop sounding productions, with heavy use of string sections and a punchy sound, but the material is strong and Trisha’s vocals cannot be criticized. On the whole I think it is a vast improvement over Real Live Woman, my least favorite of Trisha’s albums. Lyrically the tone of the record leans towards survival in the face of adversity, and refusal to regret past choices.

After the disappointing chart performance of the singles from Real Live Woman, it must have been a relief when the debut single from the new project stormed to the top 5. That was ‘I Would’ve Loved You Anyway’, a strongly sung ballad where Trisha defiantly declares in the painful aftermath of a failed relationship that yes, she would do it all again if she had the choice. The production is a bit heavier than necessary, but Trisha’s interpretation is effective at subtly conveying the emotion.

The title track stalled outside the top 30. It is one of Trisha’s more pop-leaning records, a love song written by the unusual combination of rocker Bryan Adams and Gretchen Peters, with jerky rhythms and features a guest vocal from Don Henley. It is a far cry from the magic of Trisha’s previous collaboration with Henley, the classic ‘Walkaway Joe’.

The third and last single was one of my favourite tracks, but sadly did not perform as well on radio as it deserved to do. The intense ‘I Don’t Paint Myself Into Corners’, written by the talented Rebecca Lynn Howard with Trey Bruce, is an excellent big ballad with a metaphorical lyric about discovering self-sufficiency and survival, with an intense vocal from Trisha with Vince Gill supporting on harmony:

I never knew just how far a soul could fall
Like a rock, couldn’t stop, didn’t try
I locked myself behind shades of misery, yeah,
But when I let you go I set myself free

And I don’t paint myself into corners anymore
In a brittle heart of clay
I threw my brushes away
The tools of the trade that chained your memory to me are out the door
I don’t paint myself into corners anymore

Howard had recorded this song herself on her debut album the previous year, and Trisha picked up another great song from that record, the weeper ‘Melancholy Blue’, written by Tom Douglas and the legendary Harlan Howard. This portrays woman who has lost her lover and is lost herself as a result. She wanders around the country trying to find a path for herself, and we learn in the hushed last verse:

Now and then I go back to Biloxi
Whenever I feel brave
Visit that little country church down there
Lay some flowers on your grave
You sure got a hold on me
I don’t know what to do
I ain’t got no future
I can’t see my future without you

This is the highlight of the album, with Trisha’s delicately understated vocal supported by a tasteful string arrangement, and both these tracks stand amongst Trisha’s finest moments.

I also very much like Jude Johnstone’s wistful piano-led ‘When We Were Still In Love’ about lost hopes, which closes the album on an emotional low but a musical high. Another very fine track, but one with the opposite message, is the optimistic ‘Second Chance’, written by Irene Kelley, Clay Mills and Tony Ramey. Trisha’s vocal is superb on a song which tempts the listener to think it might have been addressed to Garth Brooks, with whom she was just embarking on a relationship following their respective divorces:

Here is your second chance
Take it and fly

Another highlight is a faithful cover of Rosanne Cash’s sophisticated and melodic ‘Seven Year Ache’ (a #1 from 1981), with Rosanne herself on harmony and the odd solo line.

‘Harmless Heart’ is another fine AC sounding ballad, written by Kim Patton Johnston and Liz Rose with a fine and subtle vocal perfectly interpreting the lyric, and tasteful strings. Trisha’s character has been rebuffed in love by a man afraid of commitment, and is hurt but not vindictive, as she gently tells him:

I meant every word I said
But what’s the use?
You believe whatever you want to…

You set me up to fail the test
And prove that you were right
“Everyone lets you down”

Matraca Berg and Ronnie Samoset’s ‘For A While’ is a mid-tempo number about the process of gradually getting over someone, which is uncompromisingly turn-of-the-millennium contemporary both in its lyrical details and in its musical setting; not really to my personal taste but very professionally done.

There are some tracks where the heavy production is too much, particularly the very pop/rock opening track ‘Love Alone’ (although it has an interesting lyric about self-reliance and the expected strong vocal) and the echoey ‘Love Me Or Leave Me Alone’. Hugh Prestwood’s lonesome bluesy wailing ‘Love Let Go’ gets a heavy production which totally overwhelms Prestwood’s typically poetic lyrics; I think I would have liked this if it had a more stripped down or acoustic treatment but as it is it stands as one of my least liked of Trisha’s recordings.

The album hit #1 on the country album charts, and has been certified gold. However, after the failure of the last single, Trisha took a break from making music for the next few years and concentrated on her personal life.

Grade: B

5 responses to “Album Review: Trisha Yearwood – ‘Inside Out’

  1. Michael A. October 25, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Nice review! I’m with you on “I Don’t Paint Myself…”. It’s one of my favorites. “I Would Have Loved You Anyway” never did much for me though. Even though it didn’t add much to the original, “Seven Year Ache” was fun and it was nice to see some love for Rosanne Cash during this time.

    Real Live Woman is often overlooked, but I like it more than Where Your Road Leads. None of the singles were on her Greatest Hits project in 2007. However, “Where Are You Now”, the title track and “When a Love Song Sings the Blues” are, in my opinion, among her finest performances.

  2. Razor X October 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    This is my least favorite Yearwood album. I really liked “I Would’ve Loved You Anyway” a lot, and “I Don’t Pint Myself Into Corners” and “Seven Year Ache” were also good, but much of the rest of it was just too pop/soft rock for me.

  3. J.R. Journey October 25, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Inside Out is my decided favorite Trisha Yearwood album. I still keep ‘Seven Year Ache’ in heavy rotation. ‘Harmless Heart’, ‘Melancholy Blue’, ‘Second Chance’, ‘I Would’ve Loved You Anyway’, and ‘Corners’ are among my all-time favorites too. I just can’t fault flawless recordings like those because the production leans too MOR at times. I would have preferred a more traditional or at least less busy approach to some of the ballads but overall I consider this Trisha Yearwood’s finest collection of songs on one disc. I enjoyed the write-ups on several songs in the review as well, especially for ‘Harmless Heart’. I also agree the theme of looking back with no regrets permeates the entire album. A nice read.

  4. bob October 26, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Very good review. I’m inclined to agree with J.R. on “Inside Out”. It’s one of my favorite Yearwood albums, up there with “Hearts in Armor”, “Thinkin’ About You” and HHPL.

  5. RFM December 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve just revisited Real Live Woman, which I thought was a bit lacklustre at the time (10 years ago!), but it actually has at least half a dozen really good songs on it. One I’ve picked out is “Some Days” which is just such a superb vocal performance.

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