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Myles returns soul to country

Just Like Old Times
Just Like Old Times
By Heather Myles

HighTone Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the April 10, 1992 edition of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

When it seems that country/western is getting too Nashville, with more polish than soul, along comes a Heather Myles – hailing from nearby Riverside, Calif. – to return us to our roots. Although young, her sound is definitely traditional. That said, she's no throwback, either, being as modern and accessible as contemporary neotraditionalists such as Ricky Skaggs and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

But perhaps Myles would best be compared to George Strait, in that neither has an overly gifted voice, nor is either primarily a songwriter. Instead, like Strait, Myles is a wonderful, improvisational performer. Her covers of "Why I'm Walking" and bluesman Robert Cray's "Playin' in the Dirt" make those songs as much hers as those who made them famous (no mean feat with the former).

Still, if Myles' greatest asset is her Sinatra-like ability to find every little nuance in both time-worn standards and new material by other writers, her compositional abilities aren't chopped liver, with half the songs being her own originals. "Rum and Rodeo," originally released a few years back on a HighTone sampler of new country artists, is likely to be a standard itself in a few years. Myles' lyrical style is classic:

Too much rum and rodeo
Got the better of your cowboy soul
You never spend one night alone
You've got no place to call your own.

We can only hope that this album is merely the prelude to a long, productive career by Heather Myles.