Smith, Connie – The Cry of the Heart [WHITE VINYL] – New LP
Other than some wild bluegrass and rockabilly, I never gave much attention to hillbilly music. I knew good music could be found there, but that knowledge kept me away rather than pulling me in--I was happy with the music I knew and didn't need another rabbit hole. Eventually, of course I was pulled in, mostly because I moved to Oregon where mint copies of hillbilly records were plentiful, but I tried to limit the exploration by sticking with the ladies of the 1960s. Quickly that became a rabbit hole and I had no problem getting stuck in there. There were the familiar names, and I soon found out why they had become so well known. But there were also names I was barely familiar with and those often offered many pleasures as well. One was Connie Smith. I loved her as soon as I heard her, on those records recorded over 50 years ago.
While some of the queens of the 1960s had comebacks into the mainstream in the 21st century, comebacks with the rock n roll hipsters with a love for hillbilly (and sometimes they seemed like hillbillies pretending to be hipsters pretending to be hillbillies), but I never had any idea that Connie Smith was still at it, had not listened to a Connie Smith album that had been released in the past 50 years.
But here she is, just turned 80 in August 2021, and back with an album on Fat Possum. And perhaps it should come as no surprise that she's still got it. This has got loads of strong cuts and scads of heartfelt songs, is bound to get your cold heart both a wringing and a thawing, and at the same time get that old pump skipping and shuffling like sneakers across a freshly hardened sidewalk cement. Any fan of country music should lend Connie an ear. Start at the beginning or start here. -- winch
Pain and heartbreak have permeated Connie Smith’s timeless country sound and they pulse through The Cry of the Heart, Smith’s first album in a decade and her third collaboration with her husband, Marty Stuart (who also produces the effort). Smith asks” How many teardrops have I cried over you” on album opener “A Million and One,” reintroducing listeners to her radiant, textured voice. Smith and Stuart contributed two original tracks written together as well, the soaring “Here Comes My Baby Back Again” and weeper “Spare Me No Truth Tonight.” Other songs on The Cry of the Heart include “I Don’t Believe Me Anymore” the 72nd song Smith has recorded written by Hall of Fame songwriter Dallas Frazier, and Merle Haggard’s “Jesus Takes a Hold,” which is a reflection of Smith’s boundless faith in the midst of troubled times. Grammy Award- winning producer and songwriter Carl Jackson pens "To Pieces" and "I'm Not Over You," the latter composed with classic country singer Melba Montgomery.
Produced by Marty Stuart
Artist Biography by John Bush: In less than a year, Connie Smith moved from being a small-town Ohio housewife to country stardom with a number one single to her credit. Perhaps overly compared to and identified with Patsy Cline, Smith is still considered by many to be one of the best and most underrated vocalists in country history. Her lonely desperation came straight from the heart; also, her father was abusive when she was a child, causing Smith to suffer a mental breakdown while she was in her teens. Smith was born Constance Meadows on August 14, 1941, in Elkhart, Indiana, but spent her early life first in West Virginia and later in Ohio. She married and became a housewife in the early '60s, singing occasionally on local TV shows around her home in Marietta, Ohio. She was singing near Columbus in August 1963 when country star Bill Anderson heard her and offered his help in getting a contract. She signed to RCA after a few months and recorded several selections in July 1964 with Chet Atkins at the helm. "Once a Day" -- written especially for her by Anderson -- was released as a single in September and hit the top of the country charts, reigning as number one for eight weeks. Smith's follow-up, "Then and Only Then," hit number four (even the flip side reached the Top 25), and her Top Ten streak continued unabated until late 1968, including the big hits "If I Talk to Him," "Ain't Had No Lovin'," and "The Hurtin's All Over." Meanwhile, her success began to take a toll; constant appearances on the road, in films, and on The Lawrence Welk Show caused Smith to reconsider her path in the music industry and devote herself to family and religion. Though she didn't quit music entirely, she began to balance chart success with a lighter schedule. Though her country hits were rarer than in her mid-'60s heyday, Smith still managed the Top Tens "You and Your Sweet Love" in 1969, "I Never Once Stopped Loving You" the following year, and "Just One Time" in 1971. Her most successful year during the '70s was 1972. She recorded three big hits: the number five "Just What I Am," the number seven "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)," and the number eight "Love Is the Look You're Looking For." Love Never Fails By 1972, Smith began to incorporate more gospel into her act. With the help of her third husband, evangelist Marshall Haynes, she turned her live show into a traveling gospel road show and signed with Columbia, which permitted her to record more straight gospel songs. Though the material didn't score as well on the charts as her secular singles had, she managed to stay in the Top 20 during much of the '70s. After she signed with Monument in 1977, most of her singles dropped out of the Top 40. Though she has not been a commercial force since the '70s, Smith continues to perform with the Grand Ole Opry and in 1998 returned with her first LP in many years, a self-titled effort issued on Warner Bros. The album garnered critical accolades, and Smith next returned with Love Never Fails, a collaborative gospel album recorded with Barbara Fairchild and Sharon White and released by Daywind Records in 2003. It would be almost eight years before Smith's next studio offering, the Marty Stuart-produced Long Line of Heartaches (Smith and Stuart have been husband and wife since 1997), which appeared from Sugar Hill Records in 2011.