The Deana Carter Collectionby Deana Carter
Deana Carter's mainstream career got off track after her quintuple-platinum debut album, Did I Shave My Legs for This?, and its follow-up, Everything's Gonna Be Alright. But last year's wonderful small-label Yuletide album, Father Christmas, got her back in the game, and the baker's dozen songs comprising The Deana Carter Collection underscore the formidable artistry evident in her early music. Carter's bluesy, sultry voice is one of country's most alluring instruments, and she uses it expertly to color her songs with precisely the right emotional textures. And her song selection is uniformly first rate, whether it's the two Matraca Berg co-writes that launched Carter's career ("Strawberry Wine" and "We Danced Anyway") or Carter's own collaborations with other gifted tunesmiths, particularly Chuck Jones, who helped her pen the touching ballad "Count Me In" and the catchy mid-tempo breakup gem "I've Loved Enough to Know" (which sounds ripe for a cover by the Dixie Chicks). The icing on the cake is the lilting, bluegrass-tinged "Rita Valentine," previously unavailable in the U.S., on which Carter outlines the dangers of falling for a lusty heartbreaker who will "lead you on one hell of a ride." Collection epitomizes good mainstream country. It's nice to have Deana Carter back in the fold -- here's hoping her musical endeavors continue to flower.
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