Victoria Liedtke & Jason Ringenberg “More Than Words Can Tell”

Judge Bop Records / TMR 2024

Classic Country sympathetically reinterpreted and revamped for the twenty-first century.

artwork for Victoria Liedtke & Jason Ringenberg album "More Than Words Can Tell"At first glance the collaboration of classically trained Victoria Liedtke, whose previous work includes the longstanding New York City tribute project, ‘The Loser’s Lounge’ as well as power pop band ‘Hey! Hello!’, with Jason and the Scorchers frontman Jason Ringenberg may appear a strange combination, especially when you take in to consideration the musical venture that has brought the two of them together. This new album ‘More Than Words Can Tell’, finds the duo diving deep into the songwriting partnership of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, trawling through their back catalogue, and cherry-picking some of their best-known numbers along with a fine selection of forgotten gems. The initial idea for the project came from Liedtke who, originally from Oklahoma, has been residing in the Yorkshire Dales for the last eight years, but once approached, Ringenberg took little persuading to come onboard. Along with some of the UK’s finest musicians including C.J. Hillman on electric guitar and pedal steel, John Parker on double bass, Lewis ‘Burner’ Pugh on acoustic guitar and Tim Prottey-Jones on drums the pair have set out to give 11 of Wagoner and Parton’s country classics a twenty-first century make over whilst remaining respectful to the original recordings that date between 1968 – 1980.

Co-produced by Liedtke and Elliot Vaughan the album opens with “Life Rides The Train’, one of only two tracks written solely by Wagoner, the other being the title track which immediately follows. Wagoner originally had chart success as far back as the 1950’s before fronting his own television show from 1960 through to 1981. It was through this medium that he started working with a young Parton and together they would go on to release 13 studio albums with 21 charting singles. Only two of the tracks on this album, ‘Sounds Of Nature’ and ‘Pain Of Loving You’, are co-writes, another six being solo contributions from Parton along with a cover version of Tom Paxton’s well worn ‘Last Thing On My Mind’,which peaked at number seven in the country charts in 1968.

From the opening track Leidtke and Ringenberg fully embrace their respective roles, vocally conjuring up a distinct connection with the past whilst still succeeding in stamping their own identity on each track. Structurally the musical arrangements on the new album manage to draw different elements from the original versions with Sean O’Hagan’s strings giving Parton’s ‘The Fire That Keeps You Warm’ a greater sweetness and warmth whilst replacing the strings with Hillman’s ghostly slide guitar on ‘The Pain Of Loving You’ increases the sense of menace and tension. Similarly, Parton’s ‘Come To Me’ benefits from the combination of strings along with the lush layered harmonies throughout the chorus while the same approach transports ‘Last Thing On My Mind’ from its sparser bluegrass leanings to a softer more reflective refrain. It could be argued that the album would have benefited from another Wagoner/Parton song rather that this well covered Paxton classic, but any negative thoughts are quickly doused by the joyous ‘Beneath The Magnolia Tree’ that sees Leidtke and Ringenberg’s vocals every bit the equal of the original, while Parton’s ‘You’ captures all the emotional depth and sincerity that its creator would continue to produce throughout the following five decades. The album closes with the powerful ‘Tomorrow Is Forever’, with lots of pedal steel along with a gospel chorus lifting this song to almost athemic proportions.

With ‘More Than Words Can Tell’, Liedtke and Ringenberg have delivered an album that not only pays the utmost respect to this iconic duo of country music from the late sixties and seventies but also by sympathetically reinterpreting these songs, will hopefully introduce this music to a whole new generation.

7/10
7/10

About Graeme Tait 125 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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