Picks and Pans Review: Tell Me Why

updated 05/17/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/17/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Wynonna

Spread the news: Wynonna isn't a country girl, she's a blueswoman. She may live and work in Nashville, but her musical compass points slightly southwest—toward Memphis, home of B.B. King.

On first listen, Tell Me Why may seem another bland crossover cocktail, that Nashville syrup of pop, rock and country. But there's an earthiness, a kick, to Wynonna's singing that gets more satisfying with each push of the play button. Arriving just 14 months after Wynonna's her surprisingly self-assured solo debut, Tell Me Why establishes her as one of the finer pop voices of the young decade. Part of the credit goes to producer Tony Brown, ex-gospel pianist and Elvis sideman, but mostly it's due to the fire inside the junior Judd.

Wynonna's voice has a lived-in womanliness beyond her 28 years. It's obvious in the knowing, salty way she sings, "We-e-ell..." kicking off the guitar solo in "Let's Make a Baby King." The fervor and style of that song and of "Father Sun" suggest that it Wynonna ever made an entire album of pop-gospel, she'd shake the pearly gales. The album's high point is "Just Like New," by old pro Jesse Winchester, an utterly fresh look at Elvis through his Cadillac; Wynonna's lazy drawl pulls you into the song's core of mystery. She signs off with her bluesiest number, sounding on "That Was Yesterday" as vibrantly sassy as—are you ready for this?—Dinah Washington. The tune, by the way, was cowritten by that well-known blues songwriter Naomi Judd. We-e-ell...a world with no surprises would be bland indeed. (Curb/MCA)

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