Sweethearts of the Rodeo (sisters Kristin Arnold and Janis Oliver) have come back from raising kids (Arnold) and personal hassles and a bad case of writer’s block (Oliver) with an absolute gem. Their ‘80s career included Top 10 albums, 9 Top 10 singles , all from their 4 CBS albums. In the ‘90s they switched to Sugar Hill and produced 2 excellent rootsy albums, but nothing, excepting a compilation album in 2000,has been heard from them since 1996.
Restless almost makes up for the years of silence. The Sweetheart’s sibling harmonies are impeccable, the band are wonderful (Kenny Vaughan and Richard Bennett – guitar, producer Dave Pomeroy - bass, Al Perkins – steel & dobro, Rick Lonow on drums, which are where they belong, folded exactly into the mix)and Kristin Arnold’s voice is, as always, one of the natural wonders of the world. Even though I’d get out my earlier Sweetheart’s albums and listen I’d really forgot just what a wonderful singer she is, singing rockabilly (Too Little, Too Late) as easily as the insinuating Restless or the tender Maybe Tonight.
The song choice is excellent as well, with 7 Janis Oliver co-writes, songs by Jessi Alexander, Ashley Monroe, Jon Randall. The only track I haven’t fallen for is a new version of the Kingston Trio/Youngblood’s song Let’s Get Together but I didn’t much like it then and it doesn’t appeal to me any more now. And really, I’m only mentioning it because I can’t really find anything else to criticise. This is the way music should be made with care, joy and nuance – and Kristin Arnold’s fabulous voice cradled by her sister Janis’ perfect harmonies. Please ladies – don’t wait this long for the next album, I couldn’t stand it!