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Julie Roberts

Julie Roberts – 2004 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Julie Roberts

It has grown impossible to predict what new act will be the next to really catch fire and rip up the charts, not once, but numerous times right out of the chute. But certainly Julie Roberts has a number of qualities upon which to base an argument that she will be that act.

The first thing most people will notice is that she's drop dead gorgeous even in comparison to the really pretty lineup of Nashville divas. But what is most astonishing about the 11-song debut is her understanding of her own strengths and how to best use those assets. Her strong, slightly blues-tinged vocals will draw immediate comparisons to Bonnie Raitt. But the 25-year-old South Carolina native probably conveys more of the strong clarity of Patsy Cline's delivery than any vocalist of recent memory. Another of Roberts' many strengths is her choice of material. This collection features songs written by Jamie O'Hara, Julie Miller, Darrell Scott and Marcus Hummon, all people who know the Nashville life as both writers and performers. It wouldn't be at all surprising to hear several of these tunes on mainstream country radio, following the lead of "Break Down Here."

Perhaps it was all the time she spent in the front office at Mercury Records before anyone knew she could actually sing, but for whatever reason, Roberts has stepped into the spotlight and seems prepared to remain there longer than some.