Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. We are going back to 1994 for today’s Classic Album Review. We are looking at Patty Loveless’ When Fallen Angels Fly. Patty is one of my favorite female vocalists of all-time, possessing what I think is an incredible voice. The album peaked at number eight on the country bestseller list, while topping off at sixty on the pop side. Hit-wise, four tracks would crack the top ten.
Kicking things off, it’s the track, “A Handful of Dust”. It’s a mid-tempo track that states the power of love to make valuable, even a handful of dust. While I wouldn’t rate it as one of the best tracks on the disc, it’s not a bad track, it grows on you a bit, the more you listen to it.
“Halfway Down”; now that’s a tune! A top ten hit in the late summer of 1995, it’s a good country-rocker and a definite Standout Track contender. Patty is one of the best female vocalists at singing the up-tempo tracks, in my opinion.
And as good as she is the with up tempo numbers, I think she’s even better with the ballads. The title cut, “When Fallen Angels Fly”, is a quality track, however, Patty’s vocals really are what make this track.
Another Standout Track contender comes in the form of her spring, 1995 hit, “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am”. Two people drift apart in the bustle of daily life, it’s a track that relates to many because it happens entirely too much in real life. This is one of Patty’s best ballads, in my opinion. As well as one of composer Gretchen Peter’s best works. Great lyrics, and a great melody, but what really makes this song, is the refrain. Very memorable. Great tune.
After a couple of ballads, things pick back up with “Feelin’ Good About Feelin’ Bad”. Not especially deep, lyrically, it does have a great beat. Overall, though, an average track.
Another of Patty’s outstanding works is the ballad “Here I Am”. Haunting melody with Patty’s stellar vocals puts this song over the top. I am also glad that the instrumentation was kept to a minimum, to not overpower her incredible vocals on this track. This one peaked at number four in early 1995, but I think it should have been a number one hit. One of the best singles of the 1990’s.
Another of the hits from this disc is 1994’s “I Try To Think About Elvis”. It’s a rollicking 2 minutes and 50 seconds of country music that ranks as a favorite among many of Patty’s fans. As a disc jockey, I have to say it’s a great track to throw in to liven up a show. It’s a fun song to hear from time to time.
The ballad “Ships” tells of a developing love between 2 middle-aged people in Vegas. Not a song that I would rank among the album’s best, but it’s not bad. It’s a tender, touching song that walks the line without falling into sappiness.
“Old Weakness (Coming on Strong)” falls a bit flat for me. Despite its rocking tempo, it’s rather bland.
The album’s last track, “Over My Shoulder”, is a song that just does nothing for me. Bland, bland, bland, and boring. But it’s not Patty’s fault. It’s worth noting that John Berry later released this as a single, and it failed to garner much attention, and John never had another hit. Coincidence? That said, Patty’s vocals cannot be faulted, yet even her voice isn’t enough to save this song.
This album remains available, both in CD and MP3 download form. I have seen the CD as low as $6. A great price to snag this one. If you’re fortunate, you might find a copy at your local thrift or second-hand shop maybe as low as $1.
Overall, a great collection of music that holds up well, twenty-five years after the initial release. There are a couple of tracks that don’t quite measure up to the others but are still decent. They are more than made up by the high end of the album.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.