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During her tenure as a solo artist with RCA Records between 1979 and 1987, Sylvia became one of the most celebrated women in country music. She released five albums with a dozen #1 and Top Ten hits, sold over four million records, and won multiple awards including the Academy of Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year and Billboard’s #1 Country Female Artist. In the 1990s, Sylvia began sharing new facets of her voice and perspective as an artist through her work on her own record label, Red Pony Records. Last year, she released the critically acclaimed It’s All in the Family, her most personal album to date and the first ever on which she is a co-writer on the majority of songs. Sylvia’s talents and interests also extend beyond music; she has worked as a certified life and career coach to executives and artists of all genres and sat on the board of a non-profit organization that serves and supports people who have mental illness and substance use disorders. Yet she has never stopped singing – even while on hiatus from performing, she kept a weekly appointment with her voice teacher and continued to hone her craft as a vocalist.
Sylvia is quick to point out that her path hasn’t been a straight one, but she likes it that way. What is most important to Sylvia is continuous growth – personal, professional, and artistic – and gratitude for the choices, challenges, and turns in the road that have brought her to where she stands today. Sylvia’s unique ability to honor the past while standing firmly in the present is what makes her new release, Second Bloom – The Hits Re-Imagined, so striking. On this album, she re-imagines some of her greatest hits, using the life experiences and skills she’s gained as a musician over the last three decades to imbue them with new life and let them bloom again. Sylvia’s not trying to relive the past, but neither is she running from it – the album functions as a kind of bridge from her early career to the present, and she makes navigating the bridge look effortless.
While the sound of much of Sylvia’s formative music is iconic of a certain era and genre, she notes that the songs themselves are not bound to a specific time and place. The creative process of making Second Bloom therefore involved listening deeply to what each song had to say at its core and translating that message into a more contemporary musical dialect. In some cases, this meant working with co-producer John Mock to simply modernize a song’s instrumentation and voicings; in other cases, it meant a more sweeping departure from the original production, while keeping the signature licks fans will recognize. But throughout
Second Bloom, listeners will hear in Sylvia’s voice genuine reverence and affection for each song as part of her artistic lineage. The result is an album that is by turns introspective and carefree, evocative and joyful, and that will remind fans why they first fell in love with her music while allowing them to experience it anew.
1. Drifter (Archie Jordan and Don Pfrimmer) Second Bloom opens with “Drifter,” the title track from Sylvia’s debut album and her first number one hit. The original recording, with its disco beat and dramatic strings, epitomized what came to be known as ‘prairie music.’ On this production, Sylvia nods to this sound but brings it up to date with a modern string chart and drums. One of the original song’s most recognizable elements, backing vocals by The Jordanaires, are recreated by Jim Glaser (who sang on the original recording with the Jordanaires), Keith Sewell, and Harry Stinson.
2. Nobody (Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan) Perhaps the song for which she is best known, “Nobody” was Sylvia’s second number one country hit. When an L.A. pop radio station started playing the record, pop and A/C stations across the country also jumped onboard. Soon it crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earned widespread success, ultimately selling more than two million copies. “Nobody” was also awarded BMI’s Song of the Year for most radio airplay. On this version, electric guitars replace the synthesizers from the original, giving it a more grounded sound, and vocalists Lisa Silver (who sang on the original recording), Vicki Hampton, and Robert Bailey sing the backing vocals fans will remember.
3. Tumbleweed (Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan) One of Sylvia’s very first singles and her first top ten record, “Tumbleweed” is another hit whose production and Western imagery helped establish the ‘prairie music’ sound. In crafting this updated version, Sylvia wanted to honor the lyric with a more scaled-down treatment with acoustic guitar, pedal steel, the backing trio of Glaser/Sewell/Stinson, and strings. The result is more exposed than the original, both musically and emotionally, and infused with a sense of longing.
4. Fallin’ in Love (Randy Goodrum and Brent Maher) “Fallin’ in Love” was the first single and first top ten hit (peaking at #2) from Sylvia’s fifth album, One Step Closer. The original track was characterized by its striking vocal harmonies and up-tempo feel, but at its core Sylvia felt the song always wanted to be bluegrass, which is the treatment she gives it on Second Bloom. This version swings joyfully along, with Sylvia’s voice and Andy Leftwich’s fiddle taking turns in the spotlight.
5. Cry Just A Little Bit (Bob Heatlie) “Cry Just A Little Bit” is another top ten hit from One Step Closer. This new version both honors and updates the original, with strings replacing synth lines, tin whistles exchanged for the saxophone solo, and master drummer John Gardner doubling down on the shuffle feel. The song’s lyric still evokes young love and yearning, but Sylvia is able to have fun with it without making light of it.
6. Sweet Yesterday (Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan) “Sweet Yesterday” was the first single from Sylvia’s second album, Just Sylvia. The original version ached with longing, but on Second Bloom, Sylvia brings her life experience to bear on the song and produces an even more authentic and affecting meditation on lost love. The result is a track that is both orchestral and intimate, featuring only classical guitar, strings, and Sylvia’s skilled vocals.
7. Like Nothing Ever Happened (Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan) A number two hit from Just Sylvia, “Like Nothing Ever Happened” is a story song that will resonate with anyone who has experienced a break-up. As with “Sweet Yesterday,” Sylvia’s new interpretation of the lyric feels even more lived-in and conversational than the original. Coproducer John Mock and Sylvia also chose to give the song a treatment reminiscent of the Byrds, highlighting 12-string electric guitar.
8. Snapshot (Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan) From the moment the camera click starts off the track, fans will easily recognize “Snapshot,” which was the title track of Sylvia’s third album and featured production and themes similar to “Nobody.” On this version, background vocalists Bailey/Hampton/Silver reprise the song’s original background parts, while the synthesizers are replaced by electric guitar, mandolin, and tin whistle.
9. I Love You By Heart (Jerry Gillespie and Stan Webb) “I Love You By Heart” was a top ten hit from One Step Closer and a duet with Michael Johnson, who sadly passed away in July 2017. Sylvia wanted to include the song but couldn’t imagine singing it with anyone else, so on Second Bloom she sings it alone. The new version fully embraces the reggae feel of the original, adds ukulele, and includes a lyrical tweak that astute fans will notice and love.
10. You Can’t Go Back Home (Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan) Although never released as a single, Sylvia chose to include “You Can’t Go Back Home” because she likes to imagine it might have been a hit. An allegory for her whole approach to Second Bloom, this song is a tender reminder of the inevitability of change. The new version features a moving intro with strings and tin whistle, and gives way to Sylvia’s voice inviting us to join her in reflecting lovingly on the past. Although we can’t go back, there’s no reason to wish we could when Sylvia is giving us so much to appreciate in the present.
To shop for Second Bloom Merchandise and for more information on Sylvia, go to her website at: https://sylviamusic.com/
THANKS FOR THE MUSIC SYLVIA!
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