Patsy Cline, Walkin’ After Midnight

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Lesser known tracks cement Cline as one of the finest performers of her era

Patsy Cline might not be a legend if a 1963 plane crash hadn't prematurely ended her life. She might not have been a star if she hadn't seized control of her career in the early '60s, selecting her own material and fitting her lustrous alto to the swell of strings and chorales constructed by producer Owen Bradley. Even so, these 20 lesser-known tracks &#8212 laid down between 1955 to 1960, none a hit except the title cut that made stardom possible &#8212 would cement her reputation as one of the finest female performers of her era. As compositions, not much here compares to "Crazy" or "I Fall To Pieces." Yet Cline slaps life into these straight-ahead country and rockabilly numbers with a rich, assertive belt that owes musical theatre as much as it does honky-tonk; the effect is bracing rather than stagy, with an occasional throaty growl, as on "Got a Lot of Rhythm in My Soul," establishing Cline's gutbucket cred. And Bradley's hand remains sure on these sparse arrangements &#8212 cunningly precise instrumental touches, such as the guitar that echoes Cline's vocal on "Fingerprints," hint at the settings Bradley would later employ for another female legend, Loretta Lynn.