Picks and Pans Review: Walk on

updated 08/23/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/1982 01:00AM

Karen Brooks

By any standards this would be a sensational country pop album, with an accent on the pop. But this one is all the more remarkable since it is the first recording by Brooks, 28, who grew up in Dallas, served her musical apprenticeship in Austin under the tutelage of Jerry Jeff Walker, and has co-written tunes that became hits for Rosanne Cash (Couldn't Do Nothing Right) and Emmylou Harris (Tennessee Rose). Harris' husband, Brian Ahem, produced this album, which showcases Brooks' bluesy energy, steely vocal control and nice sense of understatement with both lyrics and melody. The material is exemplary, including two intelligently offbeat tunes by Randy Sharp, Rodney Crowell's Shame on the Moon, Brooks' own Walk On and Every Beat of My Heart (written with Troy Seals) and the durable Candy Man, which was a hit in 1961 for Roy Orbison and is a perfect vehicle for Brooks too. (Another tune on the LP, Under the Stars, was written by Brooks and Hank DeVito with Orbison, one of her idols, in mind.) Harris is part of a corps of extraordinary backup talent that includes harmonica whiz Norton Buffalo, guitarist John McFee and keyboardist Bill Payne, plus singers Sharp, Renée Armand, Bonnie Bramlett, Leah Kunkel, Lynn Langham, Jennifer Warnes and Jack Wesley Routh, whose wonderfully moody Shores of White Sand is an album highlight. You have to go back to Emmylou's Pieces of the Sky for a debut LP this satisfying.

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