Few singers capture the essence of heartache as beautifully as Linda Ronstadt. Whether her sad soprano wallows in the melancholia of contemporary Top 40 tunes (1989's Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind and 1993's Winter Light), orchestral pop standards (1983's What's New) or Afro-Caribbean music (1992's Frenesi), the results are deliciously downbeat.
On Feels Like Home, Ronstadt sounds as lovelorn as ever. Returning to the country-rock sound of her '70s heyday, she offers a tough, mandolin-tinged cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' "The Waiting" and takes a sassy stroll through Matraca Berg's "Walk On." On the gentler side, her spare versions of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" and the Carter Family's "Lover's Return" are worthy of Trio, her 1987 traditional-country collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Home may be where the hurt is, but it's worth repeat visits. (Elektra)