LeAnn Rimes' 'Lady and Gentlemen': What the Critics are Saying

The singer’s tribute to some of country’s most influential men hit stores on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

For the first time in a while, the public’s focus shifts -- if only slightly -- from LeAnn Rimes’ personal life, to the voice that made her famous.

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Rimes’ latest album, titled Lady and Gentlemen, features a slew of covers written by and for men. Among them, Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Rimes slips in a cover of her own 1996 hit “Blue,” as well as two original tracks poised for radio play.
Is the album enough to shine a spotlight on her career? Read what critics have to say about Rimes’ latest offering.

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"It’s not unusual for a singer of one gender to personalize a song popularized by a performer of the opposite gender. On her 10th studio album, Lady & Gentlemen, country singer LeAnn Rimes takes the concept even further, reinterpreting nearly an entire album’s worth of male-identified hits from a female perspective,” explained The Washington Post’s Bill Friskics-Warren. “It’s a nervy undertaking given the classic nature of the material, but one that she consistently pulls off with imagination and aplomb.”
“I can understand a singer in midcareer falling in love with this idea. The problem is that the idea crumbles so quickly,” countered Ben Ratliff of The New York Times. “Songs written by or for men constitute most of country music history. If we’re going to grant that covering songs generated by (or for) the opposite sex is noteworthy, we should acknowledge that women have taken a lead in that game long ago.”
“Rimes goes after each song with everything she has to offer. She manages to create a few brilliant recreations that potentially could bring a batch of slowly dying classics to a new generation of country listeners. The ballads are most convincing,” said Billy Dukes of Taste of Country. “She’s not quite able to do the more rambunctious and trouble-making outlaw country favorites with as much justice, however.”
“But it’s the songs that take on a broken relationship the cause anyone familiar with her well-documented and sensational divorce and marriage to Eddie Cibrian to focus once again on the singer and not the song,” he added. “If one believes only a small portion of what he or she reads, then she’s singing Vince Gill’s ‘When I Call Your Name’ from the exact opposite perspective of where she was in her breakup.”
Lady is a beautifully-realized tribute to these classic songs—most of them at least 30 years old— recorded in the same traditional spirit in which they were first released. That is one of Lady’s many strong suits. The strongest, of course, is Rimes’ expressive voice.,” noted HitFix’s Melinda Newman. “She’s 29 now, and, as we’ve all witnessed through her decision to live her private life very publicly, she has come through more than a few scrapes. Not only does she have the vocal prowess to convincingly carry off tunes like Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down” or Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” she now has the vocal maturity to do so.”

But perhaps the most important critics aren’t the pundits, but the artists who first made the tracks famous. According to CMT, Haggard, Kristofferson and Jones are all singing Rimes’ praises.
“It just knocked me down,” exclaimed Haggard.
“I’ve always loved the way LeAnn sings, and she beautifully makes ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ her own,” added Kristofferson.
“Damn, that girl can sing!” gushed Jones. “I have always loved LeAnn’s voice, but she really nailed it.”
Rimes worked with country legend Vince Gill on the album, which was released on Tuesday, Sept. 27 via Curb Records.