Patty Loveless, Jim Lauderdale | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Patty Loveless, Jim Lauderdale Recommended All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sat., March 14, 7 & 10 p.m. 2009

When Patty Loveless ditched her foundering mainstream country career and turned to bluegrass on 2001’s Mountain Soul, a lot of people thought she was just jumping on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? bandwagon. Eight years later, though, she hasn’t made another play for country radio. Her latest album, Sleepless Nights (Saguaro Road), is likewise a look back at country’s roots, but instead of bluegrass she’s tackling hard-core honky-tonk. The songs make occasional gestures that sound like pure throwbacks—I’m thinking of the Floyd Cramer-esque piano tinkling—but for the most part Emory Gordy Jr.’s production is contemporary. The album owes its success less to style and sound choices, though, than to the selection of songs. Loveless brings a 70s sweetness to her reading of “Sleepless Nights” that pushes it closer to the Emmylou Harris version than the Everly Brothers original (especially with Vince Gill in the Gram Parsons role), and throughout the record she’s as strong as ever. With tunes like “Why Baby Why,” “Crazy Arms,” “There Stands the Glass,” and “He Thinks I Still Care” (a version of the George Jones hit), Sleepless Nights is essentially a standards collection—Loveless treats twang the way Sinatra treated Gershwin, Porter, and Kern. Jim Lauderdale opens. —Peter Margasak

Price: $38, $36 members, $34 seniors and children

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