Sad Songs and Waltzes
Keith WhitleyRounder CD 11661-0399-2
Rounder Records Corp.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Whether you are a fan of Keith Whitley's bluegrass work, his country work, or both, there is no question that he left this world all too soon. As a bluegrass vocalist, he was a part of both Ralph's Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys and JD Crowe's New South. When he left the New South to pursue his fortune as a country soloist, it was with Crowe's blessing and encouragement. Crowe knew and shared Whitley's love for country music, and realized Whitley's vast potential. Whitley experienced great success, if only for a brief period. |
Sad Songs and Waltzes is a collection of recordings brought out of hiding by JD Crowe. Some of the tracks were first part of a 1982 New South album, Somewhere In Between. Other tracks were for a country album Whitley recorded with Crowe's help before leaving Crowe's band. The original instrumental tracks have been removed and replaced by some of the finest musicians around today. With players like Diamond Rio's Gene Johnson, Glen Duncan, Crowe, Pig Robbins and others, we get a glimpse as to what it might have been like if Whitley were around today. Several songs on the album have never been released before.
One wonders if Whitley might have pulled a Ricky Skaggs and gone home to bluegrass. One wonders if Garth Brooks might have had to have taken a back seat to this country star. Singing tunes written by Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall and others, Whitley's voice still evokes the power and feeling it did back then. George Strait had a hit with Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, but it was Whitley who recorded it first. And you can put the title tune, written by Willie Nelson years ago, right alongside Larry Cordle's Murder On Music Row as an indictment of the country music industry's commercialization.
If you are a fan of Keith Whitley, Sad Songs and Waltzes is an absolute must. For those who have not had the chance to hear Whitley's work before, here is a treat, and a tragedy, all rolled into one.