Beautiful Lies

Sweethearts of the Rodeo

(SHCD-3857)

Sugar Hill Records
Durham, NC

A Review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

Some of the most beautiful sounds coming out of Nashville these days belong to Kristine Arnold and Janis Gill, otherwise known as Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Perennial Country Music Association nominees and past winners of the best duo award, their most recent collaboration, Beautiful Lies, on the Sugar Hill label, demonstrates just how they have stayed on top ten years after their 1986 debut.

The secret of their success lies in their stunning harmonies. Kristine Arnold possesses the deeper, warmer voice, while her sister Janis Gill sings in a higher, lighter range, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. Theirs is a perfect blend of light and dark, brightness and warmth.

Their new recording, Beautiful Lies, ranges from country to folk, with some bluegrass thrown in to shake up the mix. As good as the vocals are, the choice of songs and quality of the songwriting are outstanding as well, from classic tunes by Bob Dylan and Donovan, to the pens of talents like Don Schlitz, Pam Tillis and Jimmie Rodgers. Janis Gill comes to the forefront as a skilled songwriter with four of her songs appearing here.

The infectious When Love Comes Around the Bend opens the recording. Tight vocal harmonies and Stuart Duncan's wizardry on the fiddle make this a standout tune. Gill and Arnold's elegant vocals and a pared down acoustic arrangement bring a new beauty to Donovan's Catch the Wind. One of the recording's finest cuts, I Won't Cry," is written by Janis Gill and Paul Kennerly. A tale of love gone wrong backed by a driving guitar and the magic of those Sweetheart harmonies. I Know Who You Are, written by Janis Gill, is the recording's prettiest song. The uptempo Pretty Words, with its hefty dose of country and sprinkling of bluegrass, is co-written by Janis' husband Vince Gill and Don Schlitz. Beautiful Lies closes with the fun, rollercoaster ride of a tune, Muleskinner Blues. This classic tune by Jimmie Rodgers and George Vaughn gives the Sweethearts' backup band their best opportunity to show off their topnotch country licks.

Produced by the Sweethearts' own Janis Gill, Beautiful Lies delivers on all fronts. Featuring outstanding vocals and musical accompaniment by some of Nashville's finest, this recording will bring back old fans and create new ones. There is something here for everyone. A truly fine outing by Sweethearts of the Rodeo.

Edited by Shawn Linderman

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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