With the determination of a coalminer’s daughter and better taste than much of the competition, Patty Loveless has spent the better part of 15 years being the female singer Nashville has the least reason to be embarrassed by. Yet even she has strayed from the soulful roots of country, and Mountain Soul is her heavily promoted attempt to get some of that Kentucky holler back into the bottle.
There’s not much separation between church and state in this neck of the woods: Ralph Stanley’s " Daniel Prayed " will keep the toes tapping while you’re thumbing through your Bible, and " Rise Up Lazarus " sounds as good on Saturday night as it would on Sunday morning. The two duets, one with Travis Tritt, the other with Jon Randall, are a nice change of pace — Randall is especially compelling playing the Porter Wagoner part opposite Patty’s Dolly Parton on " Someone I Used To Know. " The showpiece, however, is the Darrell Scott–penned " You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive, " perhaps a wake-up call to the ruling clique now looking to squeeze another fortune out of the men and women working in the coalmines. Loveless’s husband, Emory Gordy Jr., handles production, and sometimes even the acoustic instruments sound pumped up on steroids. But if the effort’s too earnest — there are times Mountain Soul ought to be called Diva and Dirt — the talent are too sure-handed to let this one get away from them.
Issue Date: July 26 - August 2, 2001