The gimmick of Tucker’s latest album is that it is composed entirely of covers associated with male artists. The real unifying theme, though, is that it is made up of songs Tucker can’t handle. Even in the ’70s, Tucker didn’t exactly have a great voice; she got across mostly on spunk, youthful power, and on the lyrical audacity of her cold, gothic murder ballads. Most of the songs here, though, are classic honky tonk, and Tucker’s weakened voice simply isn’t up to the task. Where Lefty Frizzell effortlessly elongated the phrases on “I Loved You a Thousand Ways,” for example, Tucker sounds breathless, flat, and amateurish, turning one of country’s smoothest songs into an obstacle course. The backing doesn’t help, either. Especially on the up-tempo numbers, the musicians seem to be trying to compensate for the singer’s failings—or perhaps they just want to keep busy. In any case, the result is overcarbonated, as the band fecklessly dilutes the brilliantly straightforward hooks on tunes like Don Gibson’s classic “Oh, Lonesome Me.”
There are flashes of mediocrity: Jim Lauderdale, for example, turns in an enjoyable Buck Owens impersonation in his guest appearance on “Loves Gonna Live Here.” And Tucker herself sounds almost comfortable on Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever,” a shoulder-shrugging ’70s hit closer in spirit to her own classic material. Overall, though, this is a painful outing.