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Jessi Alexander

Honeysuckle Sweet – 2005 (Sony)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Jessi Alexander

Jessi Alexander's being touted as a singer/songwriter rather than a plain country artist, and that's about right. Co-produced with songwriter Gary Nicholson, who shares credits with Alexander on half the cuts, her debut covers a lot of stylistic ground, but favors soul and folk flavors over anything approaching traditional or even much in the way of contemporary mainstream country.

Alexander's a fine singer, with an expressive voice that ranges convincingly from delicacy to bold assertiveness. The songs are a little more uneven, hitting some solid high points in material like the title track, the Bobbie Gentry-fied "Unfulfilled" and what's arguably the straightest country cut, "Run Right Back To You." Others over-reach, with forgettable words and melodies and cluttered, needlessly complicated structures.

Yet even these are saved-almost-by her impressive, impassioned singing and solid performances by the supporting cast, which includes some of Nashville's best. The result is a promising, if flawed debut that marks Jessi Alexander as a singer-and songwriter-to watch.