Picks and Pans Review: Take the Long Way Home

updated 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

John Schneider

What these two Country albums have in common are tuneful, ingratiating voices and extraordinarily good songs. In Lovett's case, he has mostly himself to thank. He wrote or co-wrote all the songs on this, his first album, which has touches of Western swing and blues, befitting his Texas upbringing. Now 29, he has served a substantial apprenticeship, and has obviously learned something. His LP (MCA) contains such sophisticated stuff as An Acceptable Level of Ecstasy, a strange tune about a wedding at the Waldorf in New York that seems to be about class distinctions. Then there's the nifty if lightly blasphemous God Will ("Who keeps on trusting you when you've been cheating.../ God does, but I don't/ God will, but I won't/ And that's the difference between God and me"). Lovett also sings Closing Time ("unplug those people and turn out the lights"), already recorded by Lacy J. Dalton, The Nashville-based Tony Brown co-produced the album with Lovett, overdubbing Glen Duncan on fiddle and Rosanne Cash on a backup vocal, among other people. Brown's after-the-fact contributions effectively complement Lovett's backup group, the J. David Sloan Band (a Phoenix outfit). The cumulative effect is an album that surges and swoons when it's supposed to. It would be damning Schneider with faint praise to say that his taste in songs to sing is a lot better than his taste in TV series to star in. Nonetheless, on his fourth album (MCA), he and co-producer Jimmy Bowen have chosen 10 songs that seem particularly well suited to Schneider's deep, warm voice. While foremost among them are The Broken Promise Land by Bill and M. Sharon Rice and Sounds Like Something I Would Say by John Jarvis and Don Cook, She's Ready for Someone to Love Her works at least as well for Schneider as it did for the Osmond Brothers. There's an enjoyable trio vocal on Better Class of Losers, thanks to performances by Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, who have been appearing together so often they sometimes seem to be joined at the hip. Schneider was born in the not exactly down-home town of Mount Kisco, N.Y. His family did move to Atlanta when he was 14, though, and he did put in all that time in Hazzard County. He's sounding eminently comfortable singing Country music these days. (The romantics among Schneider's fans may be interested to learn that, according to his label's publicity office, he and his ex-wife, Tawny Little, "are still friendly and date when their schedules permit.")

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