Rachel Proctor's first single, "Me And Emily," tells a story of a wife and daughter escaping an abusive husband in a pop/rock-flavored setting, but on her album debut, the West Virginia native shows that she's mastered more than one kind of country music.
Like "Me And Emily," the opening "Days Like This" treads perilously close to radio-friendly formula, but the album switches gears on the third song - a clever tale with a twist that uses the alternating slow-up-tempo of Wanda Jackson's "Right Or Wrong" to underline its bite - into a strong country mode. Once married to a fellow musician, Proctor (who penned Martina McBride's hit, "Where Would You Be") not suprisingly tends to write songs depicting women searching for or finding an inner strength to overcome romantic disappointment, but she also has a gift for memorable melodies and enough vocal talent to carry material like "Strong As An Oak" (with vocal support from Darryl Worley) through occasional trite patches. And when she gets hold of a real country kicker like "Shame On Me," the results should please almost any country fan.
Toward the end, the CD reverts to a more polished sound, but by then it's clear that Rachel Proctor has the potential to make a serious contribution to contemporary country music.