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Mandy Barnett

Mandy Barnett – 1996 (Asylum)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Mandy Barnett

Despite her tender age, Mandy Barnett's music is anything but "young country." She spent last summer playing the lead in "Always ... Patsy Cline" at the Ryman Auditorium, and Cline's influence is quite apparent in her retro sound. Like Trisha Yearwood, she has a strong, clear voice that can sound playful and exuberant, as in the first single "Now That's All Right With Me," and then come right back sounding longing and vulnerable in the next song, the gorgeous Brooks & Sharp tune, "A Simple I Love You." Easily the album's best song, however, and probably the most modern is "Maybe," an irresistibly catchy tune in which Barnett starts singing in her lower register and then flies out of sight on the soaring chorus. Although the production on this disc is quite varied, particularly interesting is the creative bongos-and-tambourine backdrop on the album's closing spiritual "Wayfaring Stranger." Unfortunately, some of the ballads, like "Rainy Days," could use some livening up, but in general Barnett's come up with a strong debut deserving to be heard.