Mountain Soul

This is the record that Patty Loveless was born to make.

This is the record that Patty Loveless was born to make. She returns to her coal-country roots with an acoustic-based, bluegrass-tinged wonder that is ideally served by Loveless' pure-as-rain voice and the righteous production of Emory Gordy Jr. (the artist's husband). "The Boys Are Back in Town" is a good-hearted backporch romp, and "The Richest Fool Alive" is a soulful ballad. Throughout, Loveless has ample help: Ralph Stanley's classic "Daniel Prayed" features dead-on assistance from Ricky Skaggs, and well-chosen duets with John Randall ("Someone I Used to Know") and Travis Tritt ("Out of Control Raging Fire") are instant country classics. Gordy and Loveless pair as writers and/or arrangers on four cuts, including the neo-gospel jubilee "Rise Up Lazarus" and the rambunctious wannabe child-bride treatise "Pretty Little Miss." Such ballads as "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" induce goosebumps. A triumph from start to finish, this labor of love may well benefit from an overall bluegrass boom.—RW

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