Picks and Pans Review: The Ballad of Sally Rose
There is no more distinctive, consistently entertaining performer in country music than Harris. That is why one approaches this concept album, her first major composing effort, with so much anticipation. And that's why it seems so disappointingly mediocre. Harris is in terrific voice and the songs she wrote with Paul Kennerley (who composed material for the multiperformer 1978 narrative album White Mansions) are melodically sweet, lyrically literate. Her backup band, including such names as Hank Devito, Russ Kunkel and Albert Lee, as well as Waylon Jennings, is just about as good as they come. The story of Sally Rose is not particularly captivating; she's an abandoned teenager who falls in love with a singer, marries him and eventually starts her own career. None of the tunes makes very much of an impact. The problem may be that so many of them sound vaguely like songs that have been heard before. Even the titles are so close to previous country hits that they border on confusing: Woman Walk the Line, Long Tall Sally Rose, Diamond in My Crown and The Sweetheart of the Rodeo are examples. Most singers go through their careers without ever recording anything as good as this, but for Harris it all comes off as more like an off day. (Warner Bros.)
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