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Maria McKee

Peddlin' Dreams – 2005 (Eleven Thirty)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Maria McKee

This sixth Maria McKee solo CD may not be a whole lot like the cow-punk celebration that ran through her initial work when fronting the LA band Lone Justice, nor is it quite as Americana-centered as the singer's earlier solo releases. But next to the nearly Broadway-ready, faux-theatrical songs of the previous "High Drive" project, this disc at least offers a slight return to form.

Produced by her bassist and husband Jim Akin, McKee's voice is looser here, and her songs are far less dramatic this time out. This approach is exemplified by the title cut, which incorporates plenty of acoustic instrumentation to give it a simple and pure feel. Although a few selections, such as "Season Of The Fair," come off a tad strained, McKee pours plenty of natural feeling into the majority of these recordings, including an appropriate cover of Neil Young's "Barstool Blues."

McKee will never again be the wide-eyed girl in love with depression era fashions and vintage Dolly Parton records that she once was. But her flowering maturity retains its own unique rewards. The artist's independent spirit has at least kept her from becoming just another dull Nashville diva, and we can all be thankful for that.