VINCE GILL PLAYS PERFECT ‘GENTLEMEN’ FOR LEANN RIMES
With this week’s release of ‘Guitar Slinger,’ his first studio album in five years, Vince Gill now has two new projects on the country charts, as he is a co-producer of LeAnn Rimes’ ‘Lady and Gentlemen.’ In addition to producing, the country legend also helped fine-tune the concept of LeAnn’s musical tribute to some of her heroes, one of whom happens to be him. The 29-year-old singer tackles one of her favorite Vince classics, ‘When I Call Your Name,’ on the album. Originally recorded in 1989, it’s the newest song on ‘Lady and Gentlemen,’ as the majority of tracks came from way before LeAnn was even born — an aspect of the project on which Vince was insistent.
“She sent me a list of songs, and because of her age it didn’t go very deep in its history, so I sent her a list of other things,” Vince tells The Boot of their initial planning of the album. “I wound up finding her about half of the songs.”
Vince was also adamant that LeAnn find the difficult formula of paying homage to their chosen country classics while also making them her own. “When she called and asked if I would be interested, I said, ‘I am … only if you won’t do note-for-note versions of those classics. First of all, you can’t really beat a classic. You can do different interpretations, but you’re never gonna better it. So let’s find different ways to do them so that they’re not you trying to do the original version.’
“I had fun trying to find different ways to do great standards,” Vince continues. “And she delivered! She came in and torched them — really made them her own in a great way. That was a great experience for me, and I think she’ll find an audience that never existed for her because of this record.”
LeAnn hopes to not only gain a new audience with ‘Lady and Gentlemen’ but also to teach her current fans the same music history lessons Vince taught her, and help them fall in love with old-school country music.
“If this kind of country music was still played, this is all I would do,” LeAnn tells The Boot. “There’s something about these songs and these men, they were fearless when it came to writing about what they were living. That can almost be a negative thing these days, when you’re writing about your life, which is so crazy to me. What I love so much is the honesty and the simplicity of the songs. That’s not around anymore … Maybe we’re bringing it back! There’s a huge misconception about me, because of the crossover hits that I’ve had, but this is where my heart lies and always has.”
On her new album, LeAnn covers songs by some of the greatest men in country music history, including Tennessee Ernie Ford, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and George Jones. She also re-recorded the song that put her on the country music map, ‘Blue.’
“We re-cut ‘Blue’ with a Western swing band, the Time Jumpers, who I play with full-time now,” Vince explains. “It’s such a more authentic kind of record even than the one she made in the early ’90s.”
LeAnn is thrilled with the end result and how much fun she had getting there. “[Vince] is such a genius,” she gushes. “He always wanted to make sure that my vision came through on this record, unlike a lot of producers do. A lot of them think you’re the artist, but it’s their record to do. But Vince made sure I have everything that I wanted in this album.”