Deana Carter

Everything's Gonna Be Alright – 1998 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

CDs by Deana Carter

Deana Carter likens the variety of her sophomore release to that found on the radio of her youth. But while radio interwove records of individual genres, Carter mixes her influences with a finer grain. She sets down musical touchstones without ever really settling down on any.

Not that this is a bad thing - it just makes it difficult to pigeonhole this album as "country" or "pop" or "rock." Rather than embellishing country music with pop elements, Carter starts with a pop center and adds country phrasings and instrumentation. When she succeeds, which is often, the result is an original and interesting blend. When she fails, it's limited to a few undistinguished ballads. The opener, "You Still Shake Me" sounds like a twangy Sheryl Crow backed by a ZZ Top riff and Bangles-like harmonies. "The Train Song" stacks the guitars of Lynyrd Skynyrd against an acoustic tag of "Freight Train." Matraca Berg's "Dickson County" - one of two she penned - is something of a lyrical sequel to "Strawberry Wine." The closing cover of her dad's title track is a touching link to her family roots.

Carter continues following her idiosyncratic musical muse, smoothed a bit by Nashville's production, but not tamed of its personal quirks.