Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland

by: Gene Pitney

On Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland, Gene Pitney puts aside the operatic pop grandeur that normally defined his recordings for a set of tunes that pursued folk and country styles with bare bones arrangements. The end result is interesting but not entirely successful. The first problem is that Pitney's vocal style is best suited to dramatic narratives like "Only Love Can Break a Heart" or gentle ballads like "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" and thus he sounds a bit uneasy on this album's comedic, novelty-styled folk tunes. Songs like "Lyda Sue Whad'ya Do?" and "Those Eyes of Liza Jane" suffer because Pitney's vocals are too mannered to give the songs the sly comic touch they require. Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland is also a less compelling listen than Pitney's other albums because it trades the diverse genre blends and lush production of his straightforward pop output for a singular folk/country sound put forward with minimalist production. Despite these stylistic problems, Pitney puts in several good performances on ballad-style folk tunes that allow him to indulge his gift for drama: "Laurie" uses a mournful harmonica-led backdrop to highlight Pitney's heartfelt delivery of its tale of lost love and he crafts an effective double-tracked vocal to convey the romantic obsession of the narrator in "Oh, Annie, Oh." Pitney even makes the potentially corny woman-as-liquor double entendres of "Brandy Is My True Love's Name" by giving it a sincere, passionate vocal. However, bright moments like these can't change the album's overall uneven feel. As a result, Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland offers enough memorable performances for the Pitney devotee, but probably won't interest the casual listener. ~ Donald A. Guarisco, Rovi

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