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LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn Rimes – 1999 (Curb)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by LeAnn Rimes

You don't expect a great variety of influences from young LeAnn Rimes, and you don't get many on her covers CD. Regardless of who they might be identified with, 7 of the 11 old songs here were recorded by Patsy Cline. Rimes version of, for example, "Lovesick Blues," clearly owes more to Cline's rendition than to Hank Williams'. Had she lived long enough, Cline might have recorded the other oldies here, including "Me and Bobby McGee," on which Rimes shows another key influence, aping Janis Joplin histrionic for histrionic. (Someone should play her some of the early, country, versions of the song.) Oh yes, the powers-that-be are not going to entrust Rimes career at radio to these depressing chestnuts, so they added "Big Deal," the perfect HNC single with its perky instrumentation and a lyric that could be credibly sung only by a teenager.

Rimes is a great vocal talent, but she needs to develop more individuality and more of the subtle nuances that separate a great voice from a great singer. Then again, at age 17, Patsy Cline didn't have those things either and was a complete unknown to boot.