Picks and Pans Review: Leave the Light on

updated 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/1989 01:00AM

Lorrie Morgan

This album is, of course, only a minor aspect of the tragedy surrounding the alcohol-overdose death in May of Morgan's husband, Keith Whitley. But the incident certainly tends to dampen what should have been the substantial enthusiasm generated by this, her first album.

Whitley was only 33 and had just become a major force in country music, with three No. 1 singles in 1988. Morgan, his wife of three years, is 26 and grew up around the Grand Ole Opry, where her father, George, was a longtime fixture. She had toured with George Jones, too, but never done a complete album until this set of smoothly and sweetly rendered love-gone-wrong laments.

On his liner acknowledgment, producer Barry Beckett thanks "the pluggers who found the songs that we recorded," and well he should, since those pluggers (songwriters' and music publishers' salespeople) came up with nine fresh variations on the theme of which way did he/she go? The Jon Vezner-Alan Rhody tune "Trainwreck of Emotion" brings in another familiar country theme—railroads—in an uptempo if emotionally downbeat way, and the reliable Beth Nielsen Chapman contributes "Five Minutes," which carries an in-trouble relationship down to its last 300 seconds of crisis. The mournful "It's Too Late (to Love Me Now)," by Rory Bourke, Gene Dobbins and Johnny Wilson, is especially effective among the album's ballads.

Morgan sounds a bit like a no-frills Dolly Parton in her upper register but is clearly no imitation anybody. She's a vivacious singer who lives up to the now-poignant thanks she offers on the album "to my husband Keith Whitley for teaching me how to sing with heart and giving me reason to." (RCA)

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