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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Rimes moves on from country

Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos, Cal., Nov. 18, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

CERRITOS, CA - For LeAnn Rimes, country music was merely a brief rest stop and not the ultimate destination of her still-budding musical journey. At least that's the best conclusion to be drawn from this tour-ending concert stop.

Although Rimes sang the Patsy Cline-influenced "Blue" and the Patsy Cline hit "Crazy" about a third of the way through her brief 14-song set, these tidbits were the only true samples of real country twang to be heard all night.

Instead, covers of Prince's "Purple Rain" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" were better stylistic indicators of where Rimes is headed.

Rimes can be forgiven for desiring a little pop crossover success, but her recordings of four songs written by hack hit-maker Diane Warren for the "Coyote Ugly" soundtrack are plain unforgivable. Especially the Britney-esque "Can't Fight The Moonlight," which is bubblegum fluff clearly below her standards.

The lone new song of the night was called "Sweet Taste of You," which will appear on her soon-to-be-recorded album. It has all the markings of a generic R&B dance number, though, and contains nothing any true country music fan would recognize.

Though flu-bitten, Rimes was a real trooper and gave a feisty performance, in spite of her health. She also revealed a likeable stage manner, as she giggled nervously while introducing songs.

Rimes' encore of "Amazing Grace" opened a window into what a wondrous set of pipes she has. Its a cappella beginning showcased why Rimes' pure voice really needs very little accompaniment. Modern day R&B production sheen - the kind of backing her new music will most likely include - is better suited for hiding weak voices, than highlighting the strong ones. Hopefully, Rimes won't let her shining instrument get lost in that mix, or things could get coyote ugly.