Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., June 7, 2002
Kimmie RhodesLove Me Like a Song (Sunbird) While Lubbock's legendary trio kicks up a giant cloud of press galloping off into the sunset, fellow flatlander Kimmie Rhodes stakes her own claim to the Panhandle's mythic gift of rootsy songcraft with a glowing prize whose title says it all. Love Me Like a Song, in fact, lets the first four titles do the talking: "Darkness Lifting," "I Have Everything," "Only Love Can Save Me Now," and the title track. Following 1996's acclaimed West Texas Heaven, the longtime Austin songbird found herself beset with enough personal hardship to warrant 2000's Rich From the Journey, a spiritually grounded journey of acceptance that left its footprints on the beach rather than out in the country. On the very first track of Love Me Like a Song, Rhodes minces no lyrics about where she has come from: "I've had lots of time down here to figure out what it was that got me trapped beneath these concrete clouds. There will be the break of day, and pretty soon the stone will roll away." A phoenix rising from the ashes is how she puts it, Love Me Like a Song inhabiting the middle ground between her last two albums, liberated from a straight country and roots path, but not cocooned in post-folk, at times New Age-y Triple-A radio stagnation. And just about the point that loving back-to-backers "I Have Everything" and "Only Love Can Save Me Now" start getting gooey, up pops Willie Nelson for a duet on the stirring title track, as lovely a song as you'll lay ears on in Austin this or any year. That's followed by a trio of Highway Ladies, Rhodes, Emmylou Harris, and Beth Nielsen Champman, on the heartfelt "Send Me the Sun." Encores include another teaming with Nelson, and a second song with Harris. "The One to Walk You Home," a duet with Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, could well have been the title track if Willie hadn't shown. The six-minute blues of "Midnight Song," disarming doll-house cabaret of "Play Me a Memory," and irresistible retelling of an old tale, "November December," which borrows a piano motif from Randy Newman's "One," continue this affair to remember. From Gabe Rhodes' pure, warm production and a wealth of guests to Kimmie's oil paintings as CD artwork, Love Me Like a Song chirps with the refrain from "I Have Everything": "I have so much, I have so much ..." And it's all right here.