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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Lee Ann Womack 's voice may be thrilling, but singer fails to dig deep

Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos, Cal., Oct. 25, 2002

By Dan MacIntosh

CERRITO, CA - Many of the songs found on Lee Ann Womack's two most recent albums address philosophical issues. Through them, she advises listeners to follower their instincts, take chances once in a while and make certain they're remembered mainly for the good things that they've done after they're gone.

So you would naturally expect her to frame such thoughtful sentiments into a similarly coherent concert experience. But such was not the case during night one of her recent two-night stand.

Rather than introducing such penetrating self-examinations as "The Preacher Won't Have To Lie" with a few words about making spirituality count for something in this life, Womack treated it as just one more song in the set. Her most common song introductions were ones that either mentioned the album a song came from or explained where it ended up on the charts. But while such an approach is fitting for other more superficial hit-makers, one expects so much more from Womack, who always chooses her album material with such care.

This takes nothing away from Womack's singing, however, which was consistently never less than thrilling. That quiver in her voice still brings chills on ballads like "The Fool," and Womack was also surprisingly soulful on her cover of "I Just Wanna Make Love To You."

But one was left with the nagging feeling that this evening could have amounted to so much more than just a long string of popular songs.

Pinmonkey was delightful in its short eight-song opening set. It's such a treat to see a band that lets its Dobro player - of all things - take the lion's share of its instrumental solos, and where its drummer is its primary spokesperson. The group opened with a gospel-inspired tune called "Jar Of Clay," then closed with one more inspirational one ("Stay With Us"). In between, one heard the hard luck love story of "Barbed Wire and Roses" and a bluegrass reworking of Sugar Ray's "Fly."