|Heart Like A Wheel|
|"Best Recording of the Month"|
|The Return of Linda Ronstadt, Honeyed to a Womanly Richness|
I will get no argument, I think, when I say that Linda Ronstadt has been one of the
prettier fixtures around the pop scene now for six or seven years. And not only
that, for from her earliest days with the Stone Poneys she has shared with us a gentle,
warm, performing personality and dynamite musicianship as well. She's turned up with an
album of her own from time to time, but mostly she seems to have spent a good deal of time
helping out other, sometimes not so talented, musicians. That, and a winter that already
seems overlong, makes her new Capitol album "Heart Like a Wheel" as welcome as springtime,
blossoming as it is with beautiful Linda Ronstadt performances.
Take, for example, her lovely, straight-on, never maudlin or smarmy job on Hank Williams' I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love with You: it's done with all the standard c-&-w trimmings, but Ronstadt's performance is so unaffected, so artfully artless, so sure and so true that it is immediately lifted above the level of a whiny jukebox lament to that of a folk song about a woman's human dignity. Or try her sensitive reading of Dark End of the Street, illumined and made significant by the light of her musical intelligence. And there's also Heart Like a Wheel, to which Maria Muldaur, another lady of impressive gifts, contributes a sisterly harmony vocal, returning the compliment Linda paid her on the recent "Waitress in a Donut Shop," and proving that they know what we know.
Ronstadt's voice has honeyed into a rich, womanly thing that has the rounded femininity of a Renoir drawing. At times she sounds a bit like Mary Travers in her prime, which ain't bad, but mostly she sounds like an artist, who has finally come into her own. All in all, this is a lovely album by a fine singer who obviously knew all along that she could afford to wait. Just don't know whether or not I can- for the next one, that is.