"You won't need a steel guitar in your watered down rock 'n roll/ you might even find yourself on the cover of the Rolling Stone/ you'll be looking mighty fine in your designer clothes/ and you won't need the Opry, you'll be singing on Jay Leno." - Nashville's Gone Hollywood - Heather Myles.

Heather Myles

She packs a 38 special and shoots straight when she sings about hurting, honky tonks and heretics.

Californian equestrian Heather Myles long ago graduated from jockey to riding the roots country range as one of its most credible flame keepers.

But in a 12 year career the vibrant vibrato's five albums won wide acclaim without being a radio staple - she's too country for radio and tawdry taste tsars.

Myles clad her satire in Nashville's Gone Hollywood, with a kiss ass pose for the back cover of fifth album Sweet Talk And Good Lies, but moved inside by Rounder Records.

Heather may avoid Hollywood but her tune You've Taken Me Places I've Never Been landed in Disney movie Snow Dogs.

So why does Heather, now 36, attract duet partners of the calibre of Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam who went Hollywood, without selling out, many moons ago?

Well, she fronted Haggard and asked him direct without going through gatekeepers and Yoakam's band play on her albums.

"They'll put you in the movies/ you'll have your video/ and if you're young and sexy you'll be rolling in the dough/ seven million records sold, that must mean you're good/ move on over Ernest Tubb, Nashville's gone Hollywood."

Myles was raised on racetracks and country by two generations of jockeys and trainers at Three C Ranch, Riverside, and wears her influences like thoroughbreds sport silks.

There's little silk in Sweet Talk And Good Lies, The Love You Left Behind, Never Had A Broken Heart (Til You) and If The Truth Hurts - all potent proof of her passion for lachrymose love lava.

But in Homewrecker Blues and Sweet Little Dangerous there's a soulful swagger as lethal as her Saturday night special.

"I've lived a lot of those songs," Myles revealed, "but I also write about just womens' experiences sometimes - a lot of my friends who have had problems. And I write a lot of 'in your face' and 'we're not gonna take that any more' kinds of songs."

For the singer, who drives a 1964 Ford Ranchero and has a Schnauzer named Sonny and a cat named Mimino, the songs are her euphonious echo.

"That's how I express myself," she says. "maybe I have a problem expressing myself in my personal life, so I come out in my music and say what I need to say."

Don't get the impression Myles is bitter.

Her duet with Yoakam on Little Chapel is a joyous Tex-Mex slab of marital optimism - replete with a preacher who looks like Elvis and a sleeve picture of a Vegas chapel which offers "be married in your car."

Myles also mines nostalgia with delicious dexterity in Big Cars - celebration of love for automobiles inflamed at 16.

Although she wrote 11 of these 13 tunes she inhabits Jimmy Webb's By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Arthur Hamilton's Cry Me A River like her own.

Myles rarely rides charts but is no pauper, with homes in Florida, Riverside, Nashville and London, a houseboat at Marina del Ray, a Harley and a car or two.

"I've done well in the music business because I've done it wisely," she says.
And on a level radio race track Heather would be miles ahead of the pack - Sweet Talk And Good Lies is riveting roughage that makes a buy like this correct weight.

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