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Jennifer Hanson

Jennifer Hanson – 2003 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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Kickstart Country Standard Time to Nashville

CDs by Jennifer Hanson

Born the daughter of a pro country musician and married to a country singer and songwriter, a music career must have seemed almost inevitable to Jennifer Hanson. Still, connections only count for so much, and Hanson's clearly not afraid of taking responsibility for her own work; on her debut CD, she not only sang but shared the producer's chair and co-wrote all but two songs.

The first single, "Beautiful Goodbye," is a fair introduction to the collection. The song's rock edge and Hanson's appearance have led to comparisons with Sheryl Crow, but for country fans, Rosanne Cash's work might serve as a better point of reference. Classic country sounds are few and far between here - "This Far Gone," a tasty ballad from husband Mark Nesler and his frequent writing partner, Tony Martin, comes closest - but the predominant feeling is an updated version of the (mostly) better side of LA's country-rock of the 1980s.

Hanson's singing is strong, if not yet very distinctive, and she and her writing partners have good ears for catchy melodies and interesting lyric rhythms. Still, there are some awkward points, and a generic feeling sometimes threatens to subvert the singer's musical identity. Hanson has made a promising start, but if she wants to break out of the pack she's going to have to take a few more chances than she does here.