Sweet Western Sound

Sweet Western Sound

Tanya Tucker’s 2019 album, While I’m Livin’, was a watershed moment in the second half of her legendary career. Produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, the Grammy-winning LP featured a reinvigorated incarnation of the country star, introducing Tucker’s work to a new generation of country fans while reminding longtime listeners of the “Delta Dawn” artist’s prodigious talents. Tucker reunites with Carlile and Jennings for Sweet Western Sound, their second project as a trio and Tucker’s first release as an inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tucker previewed the album with lead single “Ready as I’ll Never Be,” a Tucker/Carlile co-write that she also used as part of The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile, a 2022 documentary chronicling her time recording the previous LP. Sweet Western Sound itself opens with “Tanya,” a colorful, humorous ditty performed by the late Billy Joe Shaver, which Shaver originally left as a voice message for Tucker. “Waltz Across a Moment” is an especially potent showcase of Tucker’s voice, which here is rich, reedy, a little gritty, and full of feeling. Carlile joins Tucker on the rambling duet “Breakfast in Birmingham,” which Carlile wrote with Bernie Taupin. And the album closes with “When the Rodeo Is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go?),” a plaintive portrait of a man not hampered by the forces of aging, and a co-write by Tucker’s boyfriend, Craig Dillingham. Like “Bring My Flowers Now” did for While I’m Livin’, the song caps Sweet Western Sound on a note of melancholy defiance, one only an artist like Tucker could strike.

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