"Love" Builds Another Bridge of Success for the Judds
T. Yap | Sydney, NSW, Australia | 03/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Prime Cuts: Are the Roses Not Blooming, Love Can Build a Bridge, Talk About LoveCountry music has never been conducive to duos. Save for Brooks and Dunn, JJ White, Thrasher Shriver, the Kinleys, the Larkins, Corbin/Hanner, Darryl and Don Ellis, the Lynns, Brother Phelps, Turner Nichols have come and gone without causing much of a dent on the genre's charts. Not so with the Judds. Right through the 80s, this mother and daughter duo was a mainstay in country music: winning every conceivable awards for vocal duos, frequented the lofty heights of the country charts and their concerts were of blockbuster success. Part of their indelible success can be attributed to the fact that you could never pigeonhole Naomi and Wynonna Judd. The Judds could very well be the poster child of how to balance between bluesy romp, rocking youthful pop and bucolic down home balladry. "Love Can Build a Bridge," their final studio album, is evidence. As the delectable jazzy piano, introduced a haunting Wynonna Judd on this ferocious leadoff single, "Born to Be Blue" opens the album at a promising start. The delightful bluesy riffs are again used to its advantage in "Rompin' Stompin' Blue." Naomi Judd's sassy harmony certainly augments Wynonna's full bodied Bonnie Riatt-type delivery very nicely on this track. Speaking of Riatt, the diva makes an appearance on this track with her excellent slide guitar playing. "This Country's Rockin'" as the title suggests, continues to find Wynonna howling and grunting in funky jubilation. Though not one that addresses the deep issues of the human condition, lyrically "This Country's Rockin'," a blithe partying anthem, may be a little contrived. Lyrically much superior is the sparse ballad "Are the Roses Not Blooming?" "Roses'" delicately sings home the homily that there is always hope in the midst life's tribulation. This is a great attestation that Nashville's songwriters can utilize the matter of three minutes or so to speak to one's heart. Wynonna's sensitive vocals and John Jarvis' excellent playing on the keyboard are sublime. "Love Can Build A Bridge," another top 10 hit for the Judds, continues the inspirational thread. Though lyrically a little cliché, this Paul Overstreet, John Jarvis and Naomi Judd co-write with its theme of reconciliation has a universal rhetoric. Two of the most country offerings are "John Deere Tractor" and "Calling in the Wind." For the sake of nostalgia, "John Deere Tractor," their debut single was revived, albeit a new recording. "John Deere Tractor" and "Calling in the Wind," are both backed by nice fiddling and potent imagery. You don't get more country than tractors, open fields and a paternal tribute. However, without trying to be too rustic, "Talk About Love" is one of the best pop offerings the Judds has had ever recorded. Wynonna's urgent delivery is backed by a punchy beat and some exceptional guitar playing, "Talk About Love" is an understated gem. Equally poppish, though less poignant is Naomi Judd and Don Schlitz's "One Hundred And Two."There are many pleasurable on this final Judds CD. But the essential quality that sets this CD apart from other country releases is the inter-weaving vocals from mama Judd and daughter. This is further accentuated by Brent Maher's deft production. Together with their previous release "River of Time," these two CDs are the Judds at their finest."