Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
After a pair of acclaimed acoustic-oriented albums -- 2001's "Mountain Soul" and last year's "Bluegrass & White Snow - A Mountain Christmas" -- Patty Loveless' new album can be seen as her return to mainstream country music.
But for Loveless herself, the Sept. 16 Epic release of "On Your Way Home" returns her to the start of a hitmaking career that goes back 18 years and almost 20 albums.
"I was working with Tony Brown and [husband] Emory Gordy [Jr.] at the very beginning of my career," Loveless recalls of the production team behind her first MCA Nashville albums. "I think they were trying to take me to a place that had a very traditional country sound and mix it with a little bit of the rock'n'roll edge and influence that I had -- especially on the first two records [1987's "Patty Loveless" and 1988's "If My Heart Had Windows"].
"I feel that this record, though, is the closest to traditional country with an edge that I've ever done," she continues. "I guess it took me getting away from contemporary country for a while and doing a project like 'Mountain Soul.'"
Loveless credits "Mountain Soul" with inspiring the succeeding "Bluegrass & White Snow." But she also notes that it caused her to become "more fearless in expressing myself as the kind of artist I want to be -- an artist of music and not so much an entertainer."
In "this day and time [when] people have honed in on images and sex appeal and it's controversy that sells records," Loveless says she no longer cares to "compete" with her peers.
"I don't think they're comfortable with that either, because the reason we got into making music at all is because of the artists we had listened to," she continues. "I remember how excited I was with my very first record, to be heard on the radio alongside [such artists] as Dolly Parton and Vince Gill, and hopefully it's all going to come back around to that."
Ironically, that attitude has led to Loveless' best success at radio in years. "Lovin' All Night," the first single from "On Your Way Home," is in the top-20 on the Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. It is Loveless' fastest-climbing single in five years.
For the album, she expressly sought "adult" songs that would "appeal to young people but at the same time have substance lyrically," she says, pointing particularly to the Matraca Berg/Ronnie Samoset-penned title track -- which she found reminiscent of her 1994 hit "Here I Am" -- and the Rodney Crowell-penned single, which Crowell himself had a hit with in 1992.
Look for Loveless soon on such TV outlets as "Late Show With David Letterman," "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and the new "Ali & Jack" syndicated talk show, as well as CMT's "Most Wanted Live."
In addition, Loveless has a handful of live performances scheduled into October.
Here are Loveless' upcoming tour dates:
Sept. 19: Gainesville, Ga. (Georgia Mountains Center)
Sept. 20: Fayetteville, N.C. (JC Riddle Stadium)
Sept. 28: Fishers, Ind. (Conner Prairie)
Oct. 4: Nelsonville, Ohio (Hocking College)
Oct. 12: UUncasville, Conn. (Mohegan Sun Casino)
Excerpted from the Sept. 20, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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