False Heart" (Vanguard) * * *
Ronstadt collaborates well, by sweetly underplaying
her voice. Her duet partner for “Adieu False
Heart” (Vanguard) is Ann Savoy, a luminary
in Cajun music. Although the album does include
a few songs in Cajun French and some fiddles, it’s
not a genre exercise. Instead it’s a chance
for two clear-voiced sopranos to harmonize on lovelorn
Celtic-rooted songs in crystalline arrangements.
A sweetheart with a French name shows up in the
most unlikely one: “Walk Away Renee.”
The quick assumption about this collaboration is
that Ronstadt teamed up with Cajun music historian
and singer Ann Savoy for an exploration of the music
of Southwest Louisiana. But though there are Creole
and Cajun touches on this album (in stores today),
for the most part the women immerse themselves in
the folk music of other regions, from the Kentucky
bluegrass of Bill Monroe to the Celtic balladry
of Richard Thompson.
The goal, as set out in the Arthur Smith title tune,
is the shedding of all artifice, calculation or
intellectual distance from the most powerful matters
of the heart. Ronstadt is clearly the more accomplished
singer, bringing her burnished, high soprano and
art-song minded attention to detail into harmony
with Savoy's unadorned alto, which is closer in
spirit to the plain-folk origins of this kind of
They've chosen songs that detail great loves in
life, most often the ones that got away, walked
away or blew apart. Thompson's "King of Bohemia"
gives the view of a parent powerlessly watching
a child become all too aware of the pain-filled
ways of the world, and Julie Miller's "I Can't
Get Over You" rhapsodizes on the ache of loss
that will never go away.
Their spare reading of the Left Banke's 1965 hit
"Walk Away Renee" brings the lyric's ache
into full relief, and allows Ronstadt a brief return
to the pop-rock milieu from which she emerged and
where she spent so many rewarding recording sessions
in the '60s and '70s. It's also emblematic of the
opportunity the album gives her to work in more
intimate surroundings than the big-band, mariachi
and other grand-scale projects that have occupied
most of her time since the '80s.
This is one of those niche records that isn't going
to storm the airwaves anywhere except public radio,
but it will slake the thirst of anyone interested
in music speaking quietly from, and to, the heart.
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy, Adieu False Heart
(* * * 1/2)
Pop chameleon Ronstadt and Cajun star Savoy possess
two of the purest, sweetest, most satisfying voices
in contemporary music. Blended together, they’re
the equivalent of farm-fresh butter in a market
full of processed imitation spreads, and this rootsy
collection offers plenty of warm, nourishing showcases
for their individual and combined gifts. From the
sassy French Creole take on Plus tu Tournes to a
spare, radiant reading of Richard Thompson’s
Burns’ Supper to a wistful version of Walk
Away Renee that recalls Ronstadt’s Trio
recordings with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris,
there isn’t a false note here.
by: Thomas Kintner
Ronstadt, Savoy In Fine Form
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy first collaborated
in 2002 on a tribute compilation to Cajun music,
where Savoy is one of the leading modern lights.
Their partnership comes into full bloom with "Adieu
False Heart," which tours a subtle range of
folk styles in lovely fashion, adding up to a mellow,
elegant piece of teamwork in which each artist's
contributions shine through.
Ronstadt has made a career out of surveying a variety
of disciplines, and her flexibility serves her well
as she draws sheen and substance from the lyrics
of Richard Thompson's "King of Bohemia"
atop a soft bed of strings. Savoy shows off her
vocal strengths in equally sure-handed fashion with
Thompson's "Burns' Supper," filling the
tune with measured softness without ever sounding
Savoy's scholarship in bayou music shines in the
jaunty, harmony-rich "Plus Tu Tournes"
and the willowy "Parlez Moi D'Amour,"
but the set also ventures into gently crafted mountain
music for Bill Monroe's "The One I Love Is
For all the genres it touches, the collection's
common thread is its measured exploration of acoustic
music and the placement of lustrous vocals inside
delicately crafted, first-rate musical vessels.
by: Christian John Wikane
A String Affair
Linda Ronstadt is not a typical recording artist.
Thankfully. Even a cursory review of her discography
between 1969 and 2006 points to her successful sampling
of diverse musical styles: standards with Nelson
Riddle, folk, Motown, Mexican rancheras, the “trio”
albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylous Harris, jazz,
new wave, Broadway, and, most famously, Southern
California pop/rock. Never satisfied to merely appropriate
current trends, Ronstadt instead chooses to explore
music that further shapes and sharpens her exquisite
voice. Two years following her fourth standards
album, Hummin’ to Myself, Linda Ronstadt joins
noted Cajun musician and scholar Ann Savoy on Adieu
False Heart, a technically perfect, emotionally
wrought, if overly melancholy, album that melds
ballads, Cajun music, and flourishes of bluegrass
into one delicious gumbo.
Ann Savoy (pronounced “sa-vwah") is an
ideal singing partner for Ronstadt, having written
Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People and being
of the celebrated Savoy music clan. Ronstadt and
Savoy first appeared together on Vanguard Records’
tribute to Cajun music, Evangeline Made, in 2002.
That partnership continues here wherein the duo
cryptically bills themselves as the “Zozo
Sisters”. Savoy’s voice is smokey
velvet to Ronstadt’s silky satin and the contrast
works to great effect throughout the 16 tracks.
When singing in unison, particularly on the title
track, “Marie Mouri”, “The One
I Love Is Gone”, and “Parlez-Moi D’Amour”,
their voices meld into one voice. Ronstadt and Savoy
become an instrument, like Joel Savoy’s guitar
or Kevin Wimmer’s fiddle, but are careful
not to overshadow the players. Likewise, the stringed
instruments act as a kind of singing voice on “Plus
Tu Tournes”, a lively, spirited tune, which
is a welcome reprieve from the pensive and lovelorn
landscape that dominates the album.
The cover image of Adieu False Heart depicts a grey,
wintery landscape. Trees are bare, their leaves
long fallen to the ground and swept away by a chilly
wind. And so Linda Ronstadt sings “If
memories were like the leaves that fall/the wind
would have carried them from my mind” on Julie
Miller’s “I Can’t Get Over You”.
Like the memories Ms. Miller so poetically envisions,
each song on Adieu False Heart represents a fallen
leaf swirled around in a maelstrom of emotion. Themes
such as deception (the title track), loneliness
("Burns’ Supper"), death ("Marie
Mouri"), and despair ("Rattle My Cage")
create a fairly bleak portrait of life on the bayou
while stringed instruments amplify the lyrics’
delicate desolation. The haunting sadness of Andrea
Zonn’s resophonic viola bookends the album
while other string instruments (upright bass, dulcimer,
violin, fiddle) embellishing the emotional core
of each song. It is not an uplifting listen, per
se, but it certainly is an exceptional exercise
in reworking and interpreting songs through the
lens of Cajun music sensibilities.
Adieu False Heart has no shortage of highlights
and the excellent musicianship yields repeated listens.
However, “Walk Away Renee” is the one
amaranthine track on the album that will only become
more beautiful as time passes. Given an acoustic
treatment by producer Steve Buckingham, Ronstadt
and Savoy’s version stands among the most
truthful versions by this oft-covered evergreen.
Listen to the Zozo Sisters intone “Just walk
away Renee/ You won’t see me follow you back
home” and dare not to be moved. Their
harmonies are simply mesmerizing.
On the surface, Adieu False Heart may appear to
appeal only to fans of Linda Ronstadt, Ann Savoy,
or Cajun music but such a conclusion is immaterial
when considering the stellar performances by both
vocalists and their impressive line-up of musicians.
Highly recommended with a box of tissues by your
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
by: Barry Gilbert
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy
"Adieu False Heart" is a rare CD of such
shimmering beauty that it works equally well as
serious listening, background music for quiet conversation
or as a soundtrack for a late-night, solitary drive.
But that shouldn't be a surprise given the exquisite
voices - and taste - involved in the project.
Linda Ronstadt will be the marquee name for most
people. Her career in the 20-plus years since her
Southern California country-rock days has been marked
by reach, if not always by grasp, as she explored
American standards, the Mexican music of her family
in Tucson, Ariz., country harmonies, and even Gilbert
Louisiana's Ann Savoy is from a royal family of
Cajun music and plays with accordianist-husband
Marc Savoy and fiddler Michael Doucet in the Savoy-Doucet
Cajun Band, among others. A music historian and
author, she and Ronstadt first sang together four
years ago on the Cajun tribute album "Evangeline
Made," produced by Savoy, and "Adieu False
Heart" is a natural follow-up to that work.
Advertisement"Adieu" is clearly Cajun
in spirit, but it is neither forced nor cliched.
It is sung mostly in English, and Ronstadt and Savoy
are supported by all-star acoustic players, including
Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Byron House and Sam Broussard.
Guitarist Buddy Miller sits in on his wife Julie's
"I Can't Get Over You."
Soprano Ronstadt and alto Savoy alternate lead vocals
on this collection about love, lost love and broken
hearts, harmonizing in service to songs by some
of our best writers. Brit-folk rocker Richard Thompson
is represented by two tunes, "King of Bohemia"
and "Burns' Supper," proving again how
timeless and beyond genre his writing is.
Quintessential American writers whose songs naturally
absorb Cajun flavors include Bill Monroe ("The
One I Love Is Gone"), John Jacob Niles ("Go
Away From My Window") and Kevin Welch ("Too
Old to Die Young").
Creole French gets its due on "Parlez-Moi D'Amour"
and "Plus Tu Tournes."
But the revelation, with Ronstadt and Savoy trading
leads on the verses and chorus, is "Walk Away
Renee," a Left Banke classic that made it to
No. 5 in 1966. Slower than the original, with a
simple trio of violin, viola and cello replacing
the Left Banke's Baroque string section, this version,
buoyed by Rondstadt's emotional delivery, makes
the heartbreak palpable.
Ronstadt may no longer be spitting out the lyrics
to snarling rockers such as Warren Zevon's "Poor
Poor Pitiful Me," but her singing has rarely
been more beautiful. Neither has Savoy's.
Together, they make magic.