Classic, by Terri Clark
One of the aspects of musicians, and artists in general, is that they enjoy giving credit to those who have inspired them. When it comes to musicians, at a certain point in their career there is often a desire to release a covers album as a way of providing some sort of praise to artists and songs that have been an inspiration, and usually that comes towards the tail end of or after an artist’s commercial success. So it is with this album, released in 2012 and containing eleven songs, some of them solo tracks and some of them duets with other artists. As might be expected from a covers album, many of these songs are likely to be somewhat familiar to listeners, while other songs are a bit more obscure. The relative familiarity of songs can be a bit of a double-edged sword, as familiar songs are likely to resonate more, but it is harder to come up with an original and satisfying take on them, while unfamiliar songs are less familiar but also less likely to be burdened with a definitive version that someone is going to like more. The larger question with this album, as with any other album one listens to, is whether the album is any good. Let’s see.
The album begins with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” and Terri Clark’s version is extremely old fashioned and reverential to the original, beginning with the original before Clark’s voice kicks in and the volume increases. “Love Is A Rose” is covered, as one might expect, in a gorgeous and traditional manner, and is also a pleasant listen for those who like love songs of this type. “How Blue,” a duet with Reba McEntire, gives a rather downbeat look at a broken relationship that nevertheless features some wonderful harmonies between the two singers set to pretty traditional instrumentation and production. “Don’t Come Home A Drinking (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” is precisely the sort of song that one would expect from a proud woman, namely a refusal to make drunken love with a ne’er-do-well partner who is simply not reliable and present in her life. “Gentle On My Mind” follows, a rather austere performance driven by some excellent guitars that focuses the attention of the listener on the lyrics of this familiar but gorgeous song. “Golden Ring,” featuring Dierks Bentley, is a gorgeous song that reveals a sensible and appropriate attitude to love and marriage and the golden ring that is symbolic of the bond of marriage between husband and wife, ending with a bit of a downbeat portrayal of a divorce. “Two More Bottles Of Wine,” the most popular song from this album, is an ode to problem drinking in the aftermath of a breakup where one is isolated from those who care about one’s well-being, and has an upbeat sort of production that belies the song’s content. “Leavin’ On Your Mind,” featuring noted one-hit wonder (in the US) Jann Arden, is a departure from most of the album, being a bit more of a jazzy lounge rendition, but that is possibly due to the desire to make the song more in Arden’s wheelhouse. “Swinging Doors” is a song about living at a bar and ironically inviting a former lover to come and visit her there as she loses her mind in drinking and heartache. “Delta Dawn,” featuring Tanya Tucker, is a gorgeously produced cover of a familiar hit, showing the sort of reverential production that is common to most of this album. The album ends with “I’m Movin’ On,” featuring Dean Brody, a song about the restless moving on that happens in the aftermath of broken relationships, especially when people make a habit of loving and leaving, a rather downbeat song that is surprisingly even in its portrayal of its duet participants.
Overall, this is a good album, especially if you like the attention focused on Clark’s voice and the way she interprets these classics. The production here is strongly traditional, and the instrumentation is solid throughout. There is an undertone of misandry that sometimes comes through in the songs, which is perhaps natural given that Terri Clark spends so much of this album singing about relationships gone bad, and her perspective naturally puts her in opposition to her narrative former partners. Fortunately, there is enough variety here, and at least one duet partner who is able to match her attitude that makes it more balanced than this sort album could otherwise be. By and large, this album features covers that hew pretty close to the originals, with modern production. That happens to be exactly how I like it, and if you feel the same way, this is a worthwhile album to check out from an underrated artist.