Songs of a Love Affair album cover
Songs of a Love Affair

Jean Shepard

Capitol Records

Jean Shepard’s debut album, recorded between 1953 and 1955 and released in 1956, is a milestone in a few ways: It was one of the first full-length LPs by a female country singer, and may be the first concept album in the genre’s history. All the songs are about relationships doomed by infidelity, written from various perspectives, including the sorrowful “Girls In Disgrace” and the blindly optimistic “Tell Me What I Want To Hear,” concluding with the bitter “It’s Hard To Tell The Married From The Free.” Buck Owens and Tommy Collins both played guitar on the album, which has a hard-edged honky-tonk sound, and Collins wrote the single “Did I Turn Down A Better Deal,” which was released in 1960. The album was not a hit upon release, but its importance has grown over the decades, and now it’s easy to see as a crucial step in country music’s artistic evolution.

Phil Freeman

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