Heather Myles portrait

West Coast honkytonker Heather Myles is a mighty talented Californian who tried her luck in Nashville, then decided to drop out and keep it country. After a brief stint in Music City, she went indie and has stayed indie ever since. Once you check her out, you'll be hooked! Here's a quick look at her work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Heather Myles "Rum 'N' Rodeo" (Hightone, 2005)
Longtime fans and newcomers alike should really dig this killer collection of Ms. Myles' early work on the Hightone label. A California native heavily under the spell of Buck and Merle, Myles hit the SoCal country scene in the wake of Dwight Yoakam's back-to-basics breakthroughs, and recorded two fine albums for Hightone, 1992's Just Like Old Times and Untamed, in 1995. This disc features a baker's dozen of her best songs, along with a previously unreleased version of "Read You All Wrong," with plenty of good, old-fashioned hard-country shuffles and heartsongs that stand right up there with the best of the old stuff. There's also a bit of her more jangly '60s rock-tinged material, and a brief dip into roadhouse blues, but it's the hard country stuff that makes this disc worth the price of admission. Both of her original albums are also worth tracking down, but this best-of set sure does a good job boiling 'em down into one swell little package, sure to please the old-school country lover in us all.

Discography - Albums

Heather Myles "Just Like Old Times" (Hightone, 1992)
Great stuff! The album title is completely appropriate: singing with an exaggerated (but fine-sounding) twang, Myles seems to channel Merle Haggard on more than a tune or two, and pens plenty of fine originals that evoke the spirit of the hard country elders. She excels on the uptempo shuffle tunes, particularly "Stay Out Of My Arms" and "Make A Fool Out Of Me," which are probably the album's highlights. I admit, my attention sometimes wanders on the more introspective slower tunes -- there she gets a little wordy, and on several songs she lets a jangly, curliqued, '60s-poppish electric guitar take over. But overall, Myles is a great representative of the independent spirit that's still out there in Americana-land.

Heather Myles "Untamed" (Hightone, 1995)

Heather Myles "Sweet Little Dangerous: Live At The Bottom Line" (Demon, 1996)
A charming, though slightly underwhelming, live set, recorded across the waves over in England... Myles has a nice voice, but she definitely benefits from a little boost in the studio booth. Here, the barebones backing and the soft sound mix swallow up her vocals and muffle the band, leaves these songs sounding okay, but a little flat. It ain't bad, but I do think her studio albums are much stronger.

Heather Myles "Highways & Honky Tonks" (Mercury Nashville/Rounder, 1998)
A honky-tonk traditionalist whose down-to-earth musical preferences have left her just slightly beyond the pale of Nashville's hitmaking machine. This is an impressive album, especially in terms of her songwriting -- Myles penned every song on here, other than a pair of choice classic country covers (Ben Peter's "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" and Ray Price's "If You Ever Want Me"), and it's pretty solid stuff. The production isn't quite as punchy as it could be, though, and even with backup by several of Dwight Yoakam's pals (Pete Anderson and fiddler Scott Joss, the songs don't really leap up at you as much as they could. Still, this is a class act, and a definite breath of fresh air, given Nashville's lavish, fin-de-cielcle rock&soul affectations. Highlights include the Tex-Mex-ish "Who Did You Call Darlin" and the similarly bopping "Mr. Lonesome." Recommended!

Heather Myles "Sweet Talk And Good Lies" (Rounder, 2002)
A rock-solid record, with the alt-country anthem, "Nashville's Gone Hollywood," lobbing friendly fire at the folks back in Tennessee. It also includes a nice duet with Dwight Yoakam ("Little Chapel ") and a rompin', stompin' opener, the hard-shufflin' "Sweet Talk And Good Lies," and what's probably her best rock-tinged tune, the jangly "Big Cars." There are a couple of sluggish tunes, but overall this one's a winner.

Heather Myles "Live@Newland.nl" (Continental Record Services, 2008)

Heather Myles "Live@Newland.nl" (DVD) (Continental Record Services, 2008)

Heather Myles "In The Wind" (Ah-Ha Music, 2010)
(Produced by Taras Prodaniuk & Heather Myles)

The spirit of West Coast country -- the classic kind from Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart and Merle Haggard -- is alive in the music of Heather Myles, a California native who really knows how to rip into a honky tonk tune. This excellent album features several stunning originals -- breakup tunes like "Smokin', Drinkin', Dancin' Again," "Broke And Broken Hearted," and "When Did You Stop Loving Me," and the poppier "Pretty Poison," as well as "Don't Call Me," a sweet duet with Willie Nelson. Myles also includes a trio of cover tunes -- "Walk On By," "Right Or Wrong" and "Vaya Con Dios" -- which are less exciting but show her range. The musicianship is top-notch (a bunch of Dwight Yoakam's pals are on board for these sessions) and her voice is as powerful and full of sly wit and good humor as ever, a robust, earthy, tawny pure-country roar... I found myself thinking throughout how much fun it would be to hear her do an album of duets with Dale Watson, a kindred spirit who has an equally strong grasp of hard-country tradition. In the meantime, this disc is a doozy, highly recommended for honkytonk fans!


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