By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch

October 16, 2003

Patty Loveless
"On Your Way Home"
Epic Records

Patty Loveless in recent years has been home for some "Mountain Soul" and then "Down From the Mountain," and now she's back in the city with a new set of country music written and played by both Nashville insiders and outsiders.

The sound on her 13th studio album, crafted by husband-producer Emory Gordy Jr., is pure Patty. The vocals drip with Kentucky credibility; the fiddles, dobros and banjos are unplugged; the guitars and drums punch; and the songs, including the ballads, rock.

The CD features the defiance of Paul Kennerly and Marty Stuart's "Draggin' My Heart Around"; the rock of Rodney Crowell's "Lovin' All Night," which made it to No. 20 on the Hot Country chart; the heartbreak of Tim Mensy and Tony Haselden's "I Don't Wanna Be that Strong"; and the Texas snap and shuffle of "Lookin' for a Heartache Like You" by Jim Lauderdale and Buddy and Julie Miller.

But Exhibit A of why Loveless is the best is Mensy and Shawn Camp's "The Grandpa That I Know," which is about remembering a loved one as he was in life. Handled by 99 out of 100 contemporary country singers, it would simply rot the teeth.

But Loveless invests it with real-world emotion, and Gordy wraps it in acoustic gold, and the lyrics, about death, come alive: "They've got him layin' there in pinstripes/how'd they get him in that suit/I guess the Lord will recognize him, without his overalls and mule ... that ain't the grandpa that I know."