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Rimes plays the artist reborn

Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, Munhall, Pa., May 6, 2018

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

LeAnn Rimes strutted out gracefully in a bedazzled Rolling Stones T shirt and jeans devoid of her pop princess persona in almost every way save for her natural charm and youthful exuberance. She made it clear that the evening was going to be about her definition of three chords and the truth.

The focus would be on the songwriting and new twists on old favorites like "How Do I Live." "When we reimagined versions of some of these songs, many people said that they liked them better, so we're going to play them for you that way," Rimes told the crowd. She started off with a bluesy, cabaret vamp version of "Love Line." It is punctuated by the angry lyric, "Beaten down to an inch of my life by ignorant people. Came close to making me believe I was nothing but evil,"

"This record is very revealing for me. I've had a turbulent life sometimes. I got married, I had an affair ('that was a disaster'), and I've been chastised for my weight. So, writing this record was very cathartic in a way."

After performing "Blue," her hit as a 14-year-old, she dropped an impromptu spot on version "Crazy" saying she never tires of being compared to Patsty Cline, "so I'm going to do another one."

The fun part of the show began with the uptempo "Nothin' Better To Do," a tip of the cap to her rebellious alter ego followed by the danceable "Can't Fight The Moonlight" was also a huge hit with most of the audience standing and a few in the back attempting their best dance version performed by the "Coyote Ugly" dancers.

For the encore, she stuck to the setlist medley that included snippets of Prince's "1999" and Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." She came back out to perform an unscheduled and mesmerizing version of "Amazing Grace" a cappella citing the room's excellent sound quality. "It's so good in here, I have to sing without a mic."

If she looked a little taller and sounded a little stronger, it wasn't the six-inch heels or the sound tech; it was a reborn artist. Mirroring the acoustic vibe, Rimes felt stripped down as well; exposed but exceptionally strong, in the midst of an evolution.Despite her struggles, time as been kind to Rimes; vocally, physically and artistically. It looks like there are many good miles left on her tires.