Picks and Pans Review: Shelter

updated 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Lone Justice

So much for clich├ęs about being able to take the girl out of the country but not being able to take the country out of the girl. Maria McKee sounds as if she has never seen anything greener than Astroturf in this high-spirited, surging album. Of course she is from Los Angeles, but on Lone Justice's 1985 debut album, her singing had a softer, more forgiving tone, and the band's music suggested Texas more often than California. Maybe this LP is not only rock 'n' roll: McKee's gentle, melancholy tune, Dixie Storms, certainly comes from a down-home sensitivity. What surfaces this time, though, is the band's drive, particularly in its new rhythm section: drummer Rudy Richmond, bassist Gregg Sutton and keyboardist Bruce Brody. Their propulsive push on the title track, for instance, is a vital as McKee's vocal in making it a memorable rock track. Some additional hardening may also have come from Steven Van Zandt, who joins the band and Jimmy lovine in co-producing credits. McKee wrote some of the music and most of the lyrics. She overreaches sometimes: "From the coldest mountain/ to the deepest brine/ Burst the shutters open/ And let the glorious sound/ Rip apart the sky." It's refreshing, though, to hear a 22-year-old who can rock and reach at all. McKee goes after difficult turns of phrase, too. In Reflected (on My Side), she sings, "No mistrust or suspicion here/ What we are what we see/ To fabricate redemptive boasts/ Confusing all, condemning most is feigning fidelity." Rock needn't be a primitive, yeah-yeah-yeah affair, and this album suggests that Lone Justice has both the passion and intelligence to seek a higher level. (Geffen)

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