LeAnn Rimes – “Swingin’”
Songwriters: John Anderson and Lionel Delmore
Country music stars are no strangers to messy love affairs, and Leann Rimes is no exception. In the last year, she’s seen her name printed in the supermarket tabloids more often than the Billboard charts. Her divorce from former backup dancer Dean Sheremet in September came shortly after she began a relationship with actor Eddie Cibrian, her co-star in last year’s Lifetime TV movie, Northern Lights.
While her personal life was splashed across the gossip rags, Rimes focused on recording her newest album, Lady & Gentlemen, a collection of country standards that were first popularized by men.
Covers albums have become a stylish career move recently, but such an ambitious project means more than just assembling a set of classic hits. An artist must summon his or her greatest gifts to make them sound fresh and vital while holding onto the identity of the original song.
Rimes rises to the challenge. The best singers possess a real presence on record, and the one-time teen sensation further establishes her growth as an artist since her ill-fated adventures with pop and dance music. The first single from the album, “Swingin’,” became John Anderson’s breakthrough smash in 1983, earning the CMA Single of the Year prize that fall. The sweet Southern allure of Charlotte Johnson left her gentleman caller “feelin’ love down to (his) toes,” and on this clever remake, Rimes perfectly matches that infectious joy, with her bluesy drawl hitched to the song’s bouncy melody. This plucky young lady, bowled over by neighbor boy Charlie, sizes up the down-home situation with strong detail. “I can’t believe I’m out here on this front porch in a swing,” she sings finally, delighted by her newfound luck in love.
With producer Vince Gill laying down his hot-wired guitar picking, “Swingin’” chugs along at a sped-up tempo that stands in sharp contrast to the horn-drenched original. While the catchy, campy background harmonies of Anderson’s version are sorely missed, Rimes delivers a soulful solo performance that echoes her pleasure. This character has much in common with the juvenile delinquent she played in “Nothin’ Better to Do,” one of the best radio singles in recent years. That backwoods tale of mischief-making sprang from her last studio release, 2007′s excellent Family. In the genre where that concept—family—is valued more than any other, Rimes has once again proven that she clearly belongs in country music’s brood of top talent.
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