My Kind of Country

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Album Review – Lorrie Morgan – ‘Something In Red’

LorrieMorganSomethinginRedLorrie Morgan’s sophomore album was a pivotal moment in not just her career but for country music in general. Released in April 1991 it was Morgan’s first set of newly recorded music since the sudden death of her husband Keith Whitley not even two years prior. She also tapped pop singer/songwriter Richard Landis to produce, a move that saw Morgan somewhat distancing herself from the hardcore traditionalism of her debut.

But it’s the tone of Something In Red that was a bit hard to swallow. Morgan barely references Whitley’s passing choosing instead to record songs with peppier production, and even going full-on Adult Contemporary on the title track. She had also moved on from Whitley pretty quickly – to third husband Brad Thompson, whom she would divorce in 1993.

Thankfully, Morgan managed to record some wonderful songs on the ten-track album. Tom Shapiro and Chris Waters wrote “We Both Walk,” a twangy guitar soaked number that hit #4. A cover of George Jones’ “A Picture Of Me (Without You)” would hit #8 and the jaunty “Except for Monday” also peaked at #4. All three are top-notch, three of my all-time favorite of her recordings, and helped to establish Morgan as a fine torch singer.

The title track was the final single. Morgan initially hated Angela Kaset’s lyric so much, she refused to listen to the song all the way through assuming that the woman ended up wearing black. RCA relented and the track is now considered Morgan’s signature tune, despite it peaking at #14. I’ve always loved the song, even if it was the least country sounding single Morgan had released to date.

Something In Red opens with string ballad “Autumn’s Not That Cold,” a effectively sung number about a woman who isn’t terribly lonely over the loss of her man. She goes into full retro mode with “Tears On My Pillow,” in which a woman runs into an ex who’s done her wrong. “In Tears” is another similar number, with Morgan in pain over a broken relationship that hasn’t yet healed. None of these ballads are particularly country which is odd, but Morgan is able to show off her best asset – her voice.

“Hand Over Your Heart” is a much better song, with a nice upbeat production, but it also seems ripped from a 1950s/1960s pop album. When looking at this record for review, I was surprised to see a cover of Journey’s “Faithfully,” a song I practically enjoy, I just didn’t expect it on a country album during what was still the outer fringes of the new traditionalist movement. Morgan sticks close to Journey’s original, opting to bring little imagination to the song. But she makes it work for her voice, singing it with beauty and conviction.

The best non-single on the project is “Best Woman Wins,” a duet with Dolly Parton that also appeared on her Eagle When She Flies Album. Written by Parton, it’s a lighter “Does He Love You” in which two women are in love with the same man, and he must choose between them. The production is a bit too sunny for me, and the mood a little too sing-song-y, but it works for what it is.

There’s no point in beating around the bush. Something In Red is a strange, strange album. Morgan jumps from a stunning cover of a George Jones classic to a Journey remake all in the midst of ten songs that bare very little resemblance to country music at all. And critics gave her credit for shedding her ‘I’m Keith Whitley’s widow’ image, but she moved on so fast it’s as if she never loved him at all. I understand ditching sad songs, but this is insensitive. She should’ve honored him here somewhere, somehow (an “If You Came Back From Heaven” moment should’ve been on this disc, not saved for 1994’s War Paint).

Morgan proves she’s in fine voice throughout and her instrument is on full effect. But Something In Red should’ve been so much more. For My Broken Heart this is not.

Grade: C+