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Alecia Nugent

Hillbilly Goddess – 2009 (Rounder)

Reviewed by C. Eric Banister

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CDs by Alecia Nugent

Alecia Nugent wraps her smooth, beautiful voice on her third release around songs written by some of the best in country and bluegrass music: Buddy and Julie Miller, Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Larry Cordle and Connie Leigh. She even co-writes a couple of songs - the rousing title track (written with Jackson and Sonya Kally) and the autobiographical Nugent Family Band (written with the storyteller Tom T. Hall and his wife Dixie).

The majority of the album (9 of the 11 songs) is ballads or mid-tempo offerings. Nugent's voice is as strong and melodic as any singer working today and her vocals bring, as Robert K. Oermann also comments in his liner notes, a believability to the lyrics. Whether it be heartache (Don't Tell Me, Dying To Hold Her Again) or leaving (The Last Greyhound, Just Another Alice), Nugent sounds as if she is no stranger to the pain. But she has a sense of humor, as illustrated in Cryin' All The Way To The Bank.

The only complaint is the lack of up-tempo tunes. Of the 11 songs, only 3, Wreckin' The Train, Hillbilly Goddess and Cryin' All The Way To The Bank show any kind of driving rhythm. These three give you a taste of the soulful edge and attitude in Nugent's voice.

"Hillbilly Goddess" is a fine step in the right direction of Nugents development of a unique country/bluegrass blend.