by Sandra L. Toney
Pam Tillis' third album, Sweetheart's Dance, puts Pam right in the middle of the race for hottest country music female. For some time now, Reba McEntire has been the "unofficial" Queen of Country Music, but Tillis' 1994 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award put that crown directly within her reach. This album has proven to all of us that Mel Tillis' daughter has more going for her than her daddy's name and popularity.
"Spilled Perfume," the album's first release, is an emotional ballad about a friend seeing her vulnerable girlfriend fall victim to a smooth-talking guy and ends up spending the night with him. But, Pam supports her remorseful friend, "You fell in a moment of weakness/Well you just got to pull yourself back up/Dry your morning-after tears/'Cause what's done is done." We all need a friend like Pam.
With such smash hits from her two previous albums as "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial," "Let That Pony Run," and "Maybe It Was Memphis," Tillis has become known for her "matter-of-fact" attitude about love and relationships. With background harmony vocals from Vince Gill, "They Don't Break 'Em Like They Used To" will most likely climb the country charts thanks to such stirring lyrics as these, "You're here in my arms right where you say you wanna be/While across the room I watch the one who set you free/It didn't take me long to mend the heart she tore in two/I guess they just don't break 'em like they used to."
A popular song from the album, "Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)," written by Tillis and Jess Leary," is a perfect example of Pam's outrageous, brassy style of music. She is just plain fun to listen to, as this song flawlessly illustrates, "If you're coming with me you need nerves of steel/'Cause I take corners on two wheels/It's a never-ending circus ride/The faint of heart need not apply." Tillis has an attitude that most of us only dream about having. She's one of the few artists who puts her entire soul into her music.
The title cut, "Sweetheart's Dance," "I Was Blown Away," and "Better Off Blue," are all good cuts off the album with medium- paced tempos (neither fast nor slow) but probably won't do well on the charts because of their in-between tempo obstacle. Most music listeners are wanting either something they can dance and party to or something they can cry to. The in-betweens, although good songs, simply confuse our emotions.
The final, and best, song on Sweetheart's Dance is actually more of a Tillis family reunion. "'Til All The Lonely's Gone" (written by Pam Tillis, Bob DiPiero, and John Scott Sherrill) sounds like a gospel choir song coming straight out of a First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But, it is just the Tillis clan (father Mel, brother Mel Jr., and sisters Cindy, Connie, and Carrie) helping out their kin in this foot- tapping, hand-clapping number which would surely bring even the sleepiest of church-goers to their feet. This album is a "must" for country music fans who value snappy, vivacious country music with an attitude!
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