Picks and Pans Review: A Highway 101

updated 08/31/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/31/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Highway 101

Somewhere out there at the point where Western swing meets country rock—roughly 37 miles southeast of Texarkana—this quartet has found what ought to be a lasting place for itself. Lead singer Paulette Carlson, a Minnesotan, raises echoes of Dolly Parton and Kitty Wells in her emotive tendencies and rocks as hard as Maria McKee. Drummer Cactus Moser, bassist Curtis Stone and guitarist Jack Daniels, all Californians, provide a just-loose-enough, spirited foundation. Moser, in particular, maintains an insistent, energizing rhythm yet never forgets that he isn't drumming for The Who or Def Leppard. The songs on this debut LP strike a nice balance between the stand-by-your-man country tradition and punch-your-man-in-the-nose modern feminism. Whiskey, If You Were a Woman (Mary W. Francis-Johnny MacRaeBob Morrison) lets Carlson weep a little, while her own The Bed You Made for Me, Woman Walk the Line (Emmylou Harris-Paul Kennerly) and Bridge Across Forever strike tougher notes. Bridge Across Forever by Matraca Berg and Ronnie Samoset is typical: "You don't have to ride me off into the sunset/ I'm woman enough to get there my own way." Dogged or defiant, up-tempo (Cry, Cry, Cry) or down (Somewhere Tonight), Carlson and her bandmates are off with a roar. (Warner Bros.)

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