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A Thousand Miles Left Behind – 2012 (Warner)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Gloriana

Why did Cheyenne Kimball leave? It's the question Gloriana fans want answered: country music's "Who Shot JR?" And even the remaining band members may not know. What's for certain is that Kimball, the multi-threat 22-year-old vocalist, reportedly just stopped showing up for Gloriana tour dates. A few tweets later, the bridges were burned, right on the verge of this record's release. The bandmates went into revisionist mode, expunging all traces of their former mate's singing and songwriting. Call it spite or contractual anxiety, but now brothers Tom and Mike Gossin, along with Rachel Reinert, can return to work with a little less drama.

This is the band's second LP, but the lineup change was clearly enough tampering with the formula for their taste. The group unapologetically travels down trails blazed by others (Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town to name two). They do have their own take on electric guitar punch, but this collection is still mostly mid-tempo odes to love.

Tom and Rachel play their character parts dutifully as one-half of a swooning couple. This can hit the sweet spot, as with the hit Kissed You (Good Night) , a successful burner about a first date's near-miss. But the group has a decided tendency to spike weaker melodies with busy instrumentation (Doin' It Our Way and bonus track Lonely Road). That aim to sound extra earnest comes off as desperation, and if they're fooling anyone it's themselves. Reinert squeezes much more emotion out of her simpler leads (Go On...Miss Me and Turn My World Around). She's good enough to go solo.