My Kind of Country

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

Album Review – Holly Dunn – ‘Getting It Dunn’

HollyDunnGettingItDunnA year after releasing her first retrospective, Holly Dunn returned with the album that would serve as closure to the commercial phase of her career. Getting It Dunn was released in June 1992 and spawned four singles, none of which cracked the top 40 on the charts.

Mel Tillis’ mid-tempo honky-tonker “No Love Have I,” served as the first single, peaking at #67. Despite a generous helping of steel, and Dunn’s impeccable vocal, the track didn’t chart higher although it deserved to. The Dunn/Chris Waters/Tom Shapiro penned “As Long As You Belong To Me” charted next, peaking at #68. The mid-tempo rocker had a confident vocal from Dunn, although it just wasn’t commercial enough to pop in the current radio climate. “Golden Years,” the third and final single, did slightly better, peaking at #51. A co-write by Gretchen Peters and Sam Hogin, the track is wonderful despite the somewhat sappy string section heard throughout.

The album’s other notable track is “You Say You Will,” composed by Verlon Thompson and Beth Nielsen Chapman. Dunn’s version of the bluesy Dobro infused number appeared just two months before Trisha Yearwood’s take on her own Hearts in Armor album. Both versions are remarkably similar and equally as good, although Yearwood turned in a slightly more polished take, which helped the pensive tune reach #12 in early 1993. Warner Brothers didn’t release Dunn’s version as a single.

Dunn’s usual co-writers Waters and Shapiro helped her write a few other tunes for the project. “Let Go” is somewhat light, with an engaging drumbeat and muscular electric guitar heard throughout. Steel and synth ballad “I’ve Heard It All” is a revelation, with Dunn playing the part of a jilted lover done with excuses. “You Can Have Him,” marks similar territory and is the best of three, with an engaging beat, and polish that had it ripe to be a single.

Shapiro teamed up with Michael Garvin and Bucky Jones to write “I Laughed Until I Cried,” a fabulous break-up power ballad with one of Dunn’s most emotion filled vocals on the whole album. Craig Wiseman co-wrote “If Your Heart Can’t Do The Talking” with Lynn Langham. The steel and dobro infused mid-tempo number is excellent and wouldn’t have been out of place on one of Yearwood’s early albums. Wally Wilson and Mike Henderson composed “Half A Million Teardrops,” another mid-tempo number and one more example of the excellent recordings found on Getting It Dunn. Karen Brooks and Randy Sharp’s “A Simple I Love You” rounds out the album, and Dunn provides the project’s standout vocal. I love the steel on this, too, although the rest of the production is a touch heavy-handed.

Holly Dunn will always be a quandary to me. Her vocal and songwriting abilities are outstanding, but the production on her records was always lacking in that little bit of extra polish that would’ve sent her over the top to the leagues of say a Trisha Yearwood or a Kathy Mattea. But that isn’t to suggest her music was lacking in any particular way to be less than excellent, it just wasn’t always embraceable by country radio and their standards at the time. But, thankfully, commercial prospects aren’t everything, and Getting It Dunn is another glorious addition to her already wonderful discography.

Grade: A

3 responses to “Album Review – Holly Dunn – ‘Getting It Dunn’

  1. Ken March 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Dunn’s primary problem was that her music was not very compelling. And as a performer she really did not create a big impact. I disagree that the production values of her music was in any way to blame. Outside of her song “Daddy’s Hands” most folks who were around 20+ years ago probably couldn’t say much more about her. Not to say that Holly lacked talent or ability. She just was never able to break through in an era overflowing with talented newcomers with great new songs all lobbying for attention. Her low-key laid-back personality did not mesh with the early 1990’s “Hot Country” era of performers who were much more edgy in their presentation.

    • Razor X March 20, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      She had a good string of radio hits but she was never a big seller for some reason. I always thought she was underrated.

  2. luckyoldsun March 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Was Holly Dunn underrated or underappreciated?
    It’s hard to really say. No, she didn’t make it as big as Kathy Mattea or Mary Chapin Carpenter, say. But on there were plenty of talented artists in that era–sticking just to women, I’ll name Bobbie Cryner, Joy White, Marsha Thornton, Dawn Sears, Kelly Willis–who didn’t get anywhere near the radio play that Holly Dunn did.

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