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Music Review: Linda Ronstadt – We Ran

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Linda Ronstadt was now in her early fifties. Her previous studio release, Dedicated To The One I Love, was an album of mostly lullabies aimed at children or infants and there parents to be more precise.

June of 1998 found her issuing We Ran. It was a return to the pop/rock formula which had proven so popular for her in the past. Songs by such artists as John Hiatt, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan were all given The Linda Ronstadt pop treatment as her powerful voice was in fine form.

Unfortunately while a technically adept album and despite interesting song choices, I find it lacking in passion. At times she seems to be going through the motions with the intent to just issue an album. The first hint of trouble was the use of four different producers which is never good for cohesiveness and a unified vision. It would be one of the poorest selling albums of her career and barely reached the American album charts peaking at number 160.

We Ran does have two things in its favor. First she assembles a wonderful trio of guitarists to provide support. Bernie Leadon, Andy Fairweather-Low, and long time member of her touring band Waddy Wachtel provide expert and interesting playing. The second thing is her voice. Her rich vocal instrument makes it just about impossible for her to produce a truly bad album.

There are some very good if not great performances. The best is “Cry ‘Til My Tears Run Dry” written by the legendary team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. It is the one track where she sounds engaged. Her vocal is passionate on this tear jerker. The title song, “When We Ran,” is a John Hiatt tune and is a good example of Ronstadt’s voice making a good song sound better. “Heartbreak Kind” is a nice return to her country sound of the past. Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind” is at least interesting.

On the other hand “Give Me A Reason” is a rare vocal miss for Ronstadt. She also gets the phrasing wrong on Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.”

We Ran was an average effort by Linda Ronstadt. The musical landscape was changing and this album was tied to the past. There are certainly a lot of better stops in her catalogue.

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