Fearless by Terri Clark | 8817015729 | CD | Barnes & Noble
Fearless

Fearless

5.0 1
by Terri Clark
     
 

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Terri Clark still sports a big hat and skin-tight jeans (leather, in this case), but Fearless presents a revitalized, newly inspired artist in those familiar duds. Frequent Rodney Crowell/Rosanne Cash cohort Steuart Smith proves himself as adept a producer as he is a guitarist, matching Clark with spartan instrumentation that lends intimacy to her spirited

Overview

Terri Clark still sports a big hat and skin-tight jeans (leather, in this case), but Fearless presents a revitalized, newly inspired artist in those familiar duds. Frequent Rodney Crowell/Rosanne Cash cohort Steuart Smith proves himself as adept a producer as he is a guitarist, matching Clark with spartan instrumentation that lends intimacy to her spirited vocalizing. The album also matches Clark with first-rate songwriters on the order of Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Gary Burr, Kim Richey, and Richey's former compadre Angelo, whose consistently sharp material allows Clark to get down to some hard truths about relationships and self-determination. "Sometimes Goodbye" speaks of taking care of your own heart, regardless of the consequences, and gains strength through its pared down instrumental arrangement. The sly Carpenter-Richey proviso "The Last Thing I Wanted" describes amazement at finding love where it was least expected, and Clark's delicate vocal gives weight to its protagonist's conflicting emotions. Saving the best for last, the artist delivers a tear-stained, ambiguous reading of "Good Mother," a song that might be celebrating the metaphysical gifts her parents bequeathed her or lamenting her shortcomings in light of those advantages. And "To Tell You Everything" is a rocking declaration of love fueled by jangling Byrds-style 12-string riff. Clark has made solid mainstream records in the past; Fearless, however, is a whole new ballgame.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Fearless is the most accurately titled album in Terri Clark's catalog. It's an attempt at breaking out of the bonds of contemporary country without leaving the music entirely behind. She's since distanced herself from it because Nash Vegas -- in its typical, screwed-up intolerant way -- disowned it as not format friendly. Her label, thanks to visionary Luke Lewis and Keith Stegall, encouraged her to make the record she wanted to make, and promoted the hell out of it. But country radio balked. Nashville critics, and the country music press in general, didn't know what to make of it and consequently it was a commercial failure. The bottom line is her songwriting collaborations with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Angelo, and Gary Burr are all dead-on. Her own songs, a killer cover of Carlene Carter and Susanna Clark's "Easy from Now On," one from Tammy Rodgers, another from Jann Arden, as well as a Carpenter and Kim Richey collaboration prove one thing: This woman knew how to pick songs that fit around a theme, taking chances and moving toward destiny. The opener, "No Fear," penned with Carpenter and featuring Steuart Smith's trademark electric guitar slashing, is sung with resolve yet without hysteria or false bravado. And along with a statement of purpose like this in life comes one in love as well. "Empty," written with Burr, is the most poetic and naked she's ever written. In the refrain, her voice begins to crack as she sings: "I want to call out for love 'til I can't breathe/I want to stare at the truth until I can't see/I want to pour out my soul 'til I'm empty. Empty, until only the flesh and bones remain...." On another of their co-writes, "Getting There," Benmont Tench drives the track as Stuart Duncan's fiddle paints the backdrop and Smith's guitars crunch the entire middle into a solid country-rocker. With its mandolin, banjos, and gentle drum loop, "Sometimes Goodbye" is one of the freshest sounding tracks to come out of Music City in 20 years. Listening to it years later, it's so obvious that Clark is not only a bright talent, but an original one. Never has a statement of broken love and a personal decision to end it sounded so affirmative. Covering "Easy from Now On" after Emmylou Harris' definitive version took guts, but in keeping with the previous track it made sense. And it's an absolutely chilling version with Harris providing the backing vocal. Like the aforementioned, it's a strong statement of determination, of affirmation, and of feminist principle in defining oneself in one's own terms. Certainly one can read plenty of autobiographical interpretations into songs like this and examine Clark's personal life, but it's irrelevant to the work of art in the disc player as it affects the listener. "The Real Thing" is a kicking bit of country-rock with a riff that comes out of Prince's "When You Were Mine." The album closes quietly with Jann Arden's "Good Mother," dedicated to the woman who raised her, and a hymn to personal transformation from the ruin and waste of past mistakes to a future uncertain but supported by the maternal connection to unconditional love. It whispers to a close with acoustic guitars and Jonathan Yudkin's cello, and in the silence, the listener feels empowered, emboldened, and just a bit wiser. Screw Nashville; this record will be regarded as a classic one day. One can only hope that Clark will reconsider one day that what she made here wasn't a mistake, but a real work of popular art. If Shania Twain displayed on her records an ounce of the integrity delivered here in full, she'd be a recording artist instead of a pop star.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/19/2000
Label:
Mercury Nashville
UPC:
0008817015729
catalogNumber:
170157

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