Connie Smith, 'Sunshine and Rain'
Connie Smith gets called "The Rolls Royce of Country Singers," but that's way too high-falutin'. If we must compare her to an automobile, Smith's vocal approach –powered by a steady vibrato, mostly on the beat and with very little in the way of note-twisting embellishments – is closer, thank goodness, to an old-school domestic sedan: always comfortable and reliable whether passing easily on the highway or purring invitingly out in the drive. Sunshine and Rain (one of three 1968 Smith LPs) opens with her running down a no-good man to his face while laying on the horn charts in Jerry Reed's "Natchilly Ain't No Good." Her version of Harlan Howard's always harrowing "Deepening Snow" is the most harrowing "Deepening Snow." Her "Only Mama That'll Walk the Line" winningly flips gender on a Waylon hit from the year before. There are no hits here, no innovation to speak of, nothing fancy, but Smith gets us where she's going.