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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Stone country Womack needs more stage presence

Indian Ranch, Webster, Mass., June 28, 1998

By Michael Sudhalter

WEBSTER, MASS. - Lee Ann Womack showed she is stone country, but she could have used more stage presence in her Massachusetts debut Sunday.

The daughter of a country DJ in Texas, Womack displayed her real country style by singing most of the songs off her self titled debut, four or five songs off her next album due in September and covers of songs by Dolly Pardon, Patsy Cline, Bob Wills and Asleep at the Wheel during the hour-long show before 1,200 people.

The crowd wasn't really into the show until Womack sang her breakthrough hit, "Never Again, Again," a song about as country as country gets.

Womack was very emotional during "Am I the Only Thing You've Done Wrong." This song was written by Womack and ex-husband Jason Sellers, a fellow Nashville artist. This song shows Womack's storytelling ability within a song.

Womack has a lot of courage recording music this traditional in 1998. That courage showed through during her subpar cover of Patsy Cline's "Crazy."

Womack did an excellent cover, however, of Wills' "Miles and Miles of Texas," a tribute to her home state. Womack seemed to have an extra amount of energy while singing her current single "Buckaroo," one of the few songs that had the crowd clapping and singing along.

Of the new songs, Womack once again showed her pride for Texas during "If You're Ever in Dallas." The single set for release in two weeks is "Little Past Little Rock," a catchy tune similar to Jo Dee Messina's "Bye Bye," with more of a country sound and interesting lyrics. "Think of a Reason Later" should be a hit with country radio. The lyrics seem as though they belong in another genre of music.

Even though Womack is head and shoulders above her fellow Nashville newcomers when it comes to real country music, she hardly interacted with the crowd other than to say "Thank You." Womack had a talented six-piece band which she failed to introduce.

Womack is a throwback to country as many fans know and love. But if Womack wants country to survive, she needs to be more personable. Womack, for example, declined to come back for an encore set, despite a large crowd reaction after the gospel-country song "Get Up in Jesus' Name."

If she can place more emphasis on entertaining, while keeping her roots, Womack could be mentioned in the same breath as Tammy, Loretta and Dolly.