Two cds of the nineties in one fabulous package from, West Coast gal Heather Myles make for good country (music) listening. Myles was like a breath of fresh air when she breezed onto the scene in 1992 with her debut album, Just Like Old Times and then three years later with Untamed. Country through and through it is always good to hear Myles west coast twangy country flavours as she airs a bunch her own songs alongside those from the Stonewall Jackson, Melvin Endsley (‘Why I’m Walking’), Jim Lauderdale (‘Stay Out Of My Arms’), Gary Brandin (‘Lovin’ The Bottle’), D. Amy, R. Amy (‘Playin’ In the Dirt’), Eddy Raven ‘Just Leave Me Alone’), Jeff Rymes of The Lonesome Strangers (‘And It Hurts’), Raven, Sanger D Shafer (‘Just Leave Me Alone’), R. Michaels (’How Could She’) and Marty Robbins (‘Begging You’). Her version of the Robbins’ track owes much to the vocal style of Patsy Cline and with Greg Leisz (lead guitar), Skip Edwards (piano), Bob Gothar (acoustic, six-string bass) Keith Rosier (upright bass), Larry Mitchell (drums) and during the second half of the song, Brantley Kearns (fiddle) —it is a wonderful piece of work.
Using the minimal players on creating her honky tonk barroom sound Myles benefits greatly. For no one act is battle against the other to be heard. Each and everyone gets the opportunity to shine and shine they do, not least being the chickin’ pickin’ guitar of Gothar on her co-write with 1960s, 1970s act Dickey Lee ‘Gone Too Long’ that also has Leisz unleash some choice licks on dobro. There is more like it too. As she speaks of love lost, Cadillac cowboys (she has a passion for motors and fro ma young age road horses) and the environment (‘Untamed’) and though near irresistible on the flowing, feel-good twangy honky tonk arrangements as in the wondrous ‘Changes’ that follows a mighty cover of ‘Why I’m Walking’ and has the likes of ‘Rum & Rodeo’ (one of her most powerful and impassioned pieces), a fiddle induced ‘Stay Out Of My Arms’ and dashing ‘Lovin’ The Bottle’ for company on her debut recording. Why her flame dimmed (and she never got that major contract is a great pity) I feel was a combination of her music being too country but that is all she knew plus the fact her material and later-day productions lacked the snap, crackle and pop she started out making! This said, Heather Myles is still one of the finest (and personal favourite) female country acts of the last twenty years; hopefully, she shall be back, soon with a head turning recording. For that to happen she needs to record more songs of the calibre of, shuffling ballad ‘When You Walked Out On Me’ and if needed, heart-stopping covers like her priceless version of Robbins' ‘Begging For You’.
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