On her new album, Lady & Gentlemen, LeAnn Rimes tackles some of the most recognizable country songs ever, all recorded by male artists. “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “When I Call Your Name,” and “Good Hearted Woman” are just some of the classic songs LeAnn features on her new album, songs many artists would leave untouched just because of their significance in music history.
“I wanted to pay homage to the originals, and make these songs my own at the end of the day, without offending the original men,” LeAnn told Billboard. “I never thought that it was a ballsy move. I’m just thanking these men for these great songs that are obviously huge hits, and made an impact back in the day.”
LeAnn sent the album to several of the artists she covered. Produced by Vince Gill, she was anxious to hear what the original voices had to say. “We sent these out to many of the men – the ‘Gentlemen’ on the record, and to hear Merle Haggard say that I floored him, or to hear that George Jones listened to the album from front to back and was emotionally moved by these songs is humbling,” she said. “I guess it was a ballsy move, but I just thought in my heart that I love singing these songs, so why not do it. This kind of country music isn’t around anymore.”
During the recording process, LeAnn was going through her highly publicized divorce from Dean Sheremet. While recording Merle Haggard’s “I Can’t Be Myself,” a favorite song of Vince’s that he brought to her for the project, she found herself connecting to the lyrics.
“I have to say the one thing about this record when I was recording it, is that I was going through the divorce at the time,” she told Billboard. “I was in a very vulnerable space at the moment, and the lyrics hit home. My favorite line ‘I believe the Lord knows I’m unhappy.’ Vince and I looked at each other, and I said that’s the best line I’ve ever heard.”
The album also includes LeAnn’s cover of John Anderson’s “Swingin’,” which she released to radio last year.