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Album review: Roy Orbison, ‘One of the Lonely Ones’

“When you walk through a storm/ Hold your head up high/ And don’t be afraid of the dark.” When Roy Orbison sings those lines with hymnlike reverence, it’s clear he’s addressing himself as much as the listener. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sets the mournful mood of “One of the Lonely Ones,” a long-lost studio album Orbison recorded in 1969, only to have it shelved by his label. Newly discovered, the record has just been released for the first time, coinciding with a new box set, “The MGM Years: 1965-1973.” It captures Orbison at his most wounded but also hopeful; the songs were born out of tremendous joy and tragedy. In 1968, he met Barbara, who would become his wife until his death 30 years later, and very soon after that, his two oldest sons (ages 10 and 6) died in a house fire. You can practically hear the emotion welling up in Orbison’s majestic voice as he confronts both sorrow (a wistful reading of Mickey Newbury’s “Sweet Memories”) and solace (Don Gibson’s “I Will Always”).

JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Sweet Memories”