This recording is perhaps the single greatest refutation to the oft repeated canard that singer-songwriters are inherently superior to those who sing the songs of others. As the liner notes say, "George Jones is the Sinatra of Country music," and this is perhaps the greatest testament to his mastery. Jones might just as well have written each of the ten originals and four bonus tracks. He possesses the lyrics with a soul baring ache that brings his storied personal scars to the microphone. And all of this despite the 1980 trappings of leisure suits, scary hair and the Nashville Sound.
While considered a come-back after a period of relative chart inactivity, this is clearly the product of Jones' incubation of both his talent and his troubles. His years on the road provided him with a mastery of his voice, and his personal and domestic problems provided the emotional fuel. From the stellar lead single "He Stopped Loving Her Today," through heart-wrenching ballads like "I've Aged Twenty Years in Five" and "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" to upbeat tunes like "A Hard Act to Follow" and "Bone Dry," Jones doesn't falter for a second. He attaches himself to every word, and leaves the listener hanging on to every emotional turn.
Billy Sherrill tempers his normal Countrypolitan excesses, and though the production has many of the typical Nashville 80s touches, it stays mostly in support of Jones' singing. And a few touches, like the layering of background harmonies and the Spectorian swell of strings on "He Stopped Loving Her Today" are positively breathtaking.
One of the greatest records from one of the greatest voices ever to sing. Augmented by four bonus tracks, each of which measure up to the original ten. 'Nuff said.