Picks and Pans Review: Only What I Feel

updated 05/03/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/03/1993 01:00AM

Patty Loveless

Steadily, with craft and care and no gimmicks, this silver-and-steel singer has risen to country's top ranks. Although she hasn't yet had a million seller, Loveless creates dynamite Nashville pop. What makes her so hip and inspirational—her hard-core fans feel they've discovered something close to the Holy Grail—is the way she combines traditional country and western with rock and roll. She's equal parts Linda Ronstadt and Patsy Cline.

The marriage-counseling song "Love Builds the Bridges (Pride Builds the Walls)" is one of just a few on Feel that seem intentionally more radio-friendly than anything on Loveless' last, 1991's down home and sexy Up Against My Heart. But conviction pours out of each verse and chorus, and she still makes you feel you're listening to country's future classics.

As on Heart, Loveless wrote none of the songs—but she and Emory Gordy Jr., her husband and producer, sure can pick them and arrange them. And with her powerful voice, a sorcerer's mix of sinew and sob, she makes them personal. The bragging song "You Will" broadcast erotic confidence, while "Nothin' but the Wheel" is a mournful masterpiece of the driving and crying genre. Somewhere Patsy Cline is probably smiling about the midnight waltz "Mr. Man in the Moon." Finally rockers such as "Blame It on Your Heart" will have line dancers gleefully stomping their cowboy boots from Dublin to Dallas. (Epic)

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