In the mid-1980s, when male artists such as Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam were ushering in the neo-traditionalist movement in country music, few female acts were keeping pace. But with hard-country hits such as 'Don't Toss Us Away,' and 'Timber, I'm Falling In Love,' Patty Loveless proved an exception. She would join the Grand Ole Opry in 1988, earn CMA Female Vocalist of the Year honors in 1996, and play legendary venues such as New York's Bottom Line, with author Stephen King watching from the front row.

Since 2001, Loveless and her husband/producer Emory Gordy, Jr., have lived at the end of a mile-long country road in Dallas, Ga., just outside of Atlanta. There's no cable TV -- only satellite, and cell phone reception is limited. But with 170 acres, an in-home recording studio, and friends stopping by to lend musical support on various recording projects (Bob Seger parked his private jet at a nearby airport during a visit), the couple have everything they need.

Still, getting to the September 9 release of her 19th album, 'Sleepless Nights' was its own long road for the singer, who, like her cousin Loretta Lynn, is also a Kentucky coal miner's daughter. She took three years off from touring and recording beginning in 2005, following the release of 'Dreamin' My Dreams,' her final album for Sony Music, and coinciding with the deaths of her mother and mother-in-law. In 2007, she resurfaced to appear at a Grand Ole Opry 50th anniversary tribute to Porter Wagoner, who along with his singing partner Dolly Parton, helped Loveless get started in the music business when she was still a teenager in the 1970s.

Inspired in part by Loveless' sister and mentor, Dottie, who died in 1996, 'Sleepless Nights' is a collection of classic country tunes originally recorded by such stalwarts as George Jones, Webb Pierce, Ray Price, and, naturally, Porter and Dolly. The album is her first for Saguaro Road Records, the Time-Life label that is also home to pop-rock artists Edwin McCain and Joan Osborne.

Loveless says she remains inspired by the same things that moved her years ago, when she was playing clubs in North Carolina.

"I'd get to know the person dancing on the dance floor or sitting at the bar listening. I'd hear stories," she tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I try to pull from that experience, or from the heartaches I've experienced in my own life. A song to me is like sitting down and talking with a friend. I want people to feel that, even if we've never met, I'm a friend, I understand, I've been there. I've always been a very emotional person, and I'm a real sucker for ballads."

And in spite of the close proximity of her home to Atlanta, the big city is hardly a draw for her.

"It's so congested and there's so much construction going on," she said. "I like the country roads. Give me a
country road to drive on."

It seems fitting then that that's exactly what Patty Loveless gives her fans with 'Sleepless Nights.'

Buy 'Sleepless Nights'