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Whitney Duncan

Right Road Now – 2010 (Warner)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Whitney Duncan

It was a long road for this album to come out, with the first single issued almost two years ago. That song, When I Said I Would, is here, as is the second single, the naughty-but-nifty tune Skinny Dipping. Given the extended gestation of these tunes it may come as a surprise that the majority of the disc sounds fresh and current; or it may be an indictment of the stagnant mainstream country scene that three-year-old songs sound like they were cut this week.

It's on the more understated material where Duncan shines brightest, as on The Open Road. A ballad that could be the single female equivalent to Bless The Broken Road, it's the most believable performance Duncan musters up on the entire album even as her voice clears the rafters on the climactic chorus. Duncan's a songwriter as well as a singer, which gives her a Miranda Lambert-style edge, but she's not nearly as rebellious-sounding even on the hottest track here, Burn It Down. Instead, she comes across as a cross between Taylor Swift and Shania Twain on songs such as Kinda Crazy and So Sorry Now, the latter's production a dead ringer for the Def Leppard bombast of ex-Mr. Twain, Mutt Lange.

So it's a testament to the considerable abilities of Duncan that she manages to rise above generic and derivative backing tracks to come out on top with her own gutsy vocal style that'll have girls wanting to be her and guys wanting her, period.