My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Heather Myles – ‘Sweet Talk and Good Lies’

sweettalkHer fifth studio outing found Heather Myles acting as a co-producer for the first time, sharing duties with Michael Dumas, who had produced her previous effort, 1998’s Highways and Honky Tonks. Sweet Talk and Good Lies was released in June 2002. It consists of twelve tracks, ten of which are Heather’s original compositions. The remaining two tracks are covers of Jimmy Webb’s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, which was popularized by Glen Campbell in 1967, American torch song “Cry Me A River”, which had originally been written for Ella Fitgerald. Both covers — and the later in particular — are creative stretches for Heather, but she pulls them off well. But with her original songs, which are the meat and potatoes of the album, she remains true to the Bakersfield sound.

The album produced one single, the mid-tempo “Never Had A Broken Heart”, which is by far the most radio-friendly song on the album. In the hands of a better known artist, it might have been a hit and it’s a bit surprising that no one ever chose to cover it. Heather’s version did not chart. “Big Cars” is another track that sounds mainstream enough to have been a hit for someone.

Pairing Heather with Dwight Yoakam seems not only like good move artistically, but also an opportunity to get some chart action. However, the Tex-Mex flavored “Little Chapel”, complete with mariachi horns, is decidedly non-commercial. The rest of the album is decidedly more traditional. The title track is somewhat reminiscent of “Wine Me Up”, while “If the Truth Hurts” sounds like it came straight out of Buck Owens’ catalog. “One Man Woman Again” — my favorite track on the album — is a beautiful retro-sounding ballad. Another favorite “Nashville’s Gone Hollywood” is Heather’s own version of “Murder on Music Row”, and unfortunately the lyrics are as relevant today as they were back in 2002. “Your Little Homemaker” is two parts Bakersfield and one part Loretta Lynn. A studio version of “Sweet Little Dangerous”, a song that Heather had performed on her 1998 live album, is also included here.

Heather pushes the envelope slightly with “The Love You Left Behind”, on which she breaks from tradition by including a subtle string section. It’s not a bad song but it’s a little maudlin and my least favorite. On “Cry Me A River” she shows that she is more than capable of handling torch material. I’ve always found “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” to be somewhat dull. I like it a little better after hearing Heather’s version, but it seems like an odd choice for her; I suspect it was included to demonstrate that she is more than just a honky-tonk singer. It does make one wonder what kind of career she might have had if she had been signed to a major label and been willing to modify her sound to accommodate the commercial demands of the time. Her disdain for pop-country may have prevented her from becoming a big star, but she did create some amazing music. I’m only sorry that she hasn’t been more prolific.

Grade: A

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