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Jean Shepard

Classic Capitol Recordings, 1952-1964 – 1996 (Country Music Foundation)

Reviewed by Jana Pendragon

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CDs by Jean Shepard

Jean Shepard is one of the all-time greats and certainly one of the most significant girl singers to come out of Bakersfield or anywhere. With this collection, Shepard is introduced to a whole new generation of listeners. Shepard is a woman with strength and character, relying on substance, rather than fluff to get her music across. Discovered by Hank Thompson in Bakersfield as a teen where she played bass and sang with the Melody Ranch Girls, Shepard spent her first years on the West Coast, an edge very much apparent in her work even today.

As much a part of the Bakersfield Sound as Wynn Stewart or Merle Haggard, Shepard's gumption and originality are evident here from start to finish. Songs like "Twice the Lovin' (In Half the Time)," "Two Hoops and a Holler" and "The Root of All Evil (Is a Man)" demonstrates not only her straight-ahead style, but also tremendous verve and power. As a vocalist, she is in the Patsy Cline camp. As a performer, she stands alone as a unique presence on the Opry stage. Quite capable of working her magic on a ballad as well as honky tonk, Shepard's almost tender version of "Under Your Spell Again" is more impressive today than ever as is her "Dear John Letter" and "Beautiful Lies." Highly recommended.