After a three-year absence from the studio, Heather Myles, one of the premier purveyors of hard country is back, and she's still a double-barreled threat. First, there's her voice, and while its huskiness and ever-present implication of reserved power perhaps inevitably lead to comparisons with the late, great Tammy Wynette, Myles' voice and what she does with it are all her own.
Then there's her songwriting. Myles has written the majority of songs on all her releases; here she weighs in with 10 of 12 tracks, and the power of her voice is matched by the strength of her material. To single out only two, "Broken Heart For Sale" is a classic in waiting with its deliciously aching melody and slip-note backdrop, while "No One is Gonna Love You Better" is a stunning back-and-forth duet with Merle Haggard on a song Hag himself could have written.
Add a couple of no-slouch covers - the Charley Pride hit "Kiss An Angel Good Morning," and a straining-at-the-reins version of the Ray Price chestnut "I'll Be There" - and the result is one of the strongest releases of the year. This is the hard stuff, with few frills or diversions, and if that's what you like, you won't find it done any better.