Picks and Pans Review: I Fell in Love

updated 10/15/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/15/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Carlene Carter

Maybe it has just taken this much time for all those country-music genes and step-genes to get lined up. but Carter at 34 is sounding much better than ever.

This album ranges from such heel-kicking country rockers as the title track (which includes sprightly backing by the distinctive Albert Lee on guitar) to a positively twangy version of the old "My Dixie Darlin, which was written by Carter's grandfather. A.P. Carter (June Carter is her mom. Johnny Cash her stepfather. Rosanne Cash her stepsister. Jimmy Carter no relation). And Carlene sounds at home throughout.

She wrote or co-wrote most of the tunes. The exceptions are "My Dixie Darlin' " and Leon Payne's "You Are the One," which was a hit for Carlene's dad, Carl Smith.

While Carter always paid at least lip service to her country-music heritage, when she was married to hard-driving pop singer-composer Nick Lowe she seemed caught between rock and a soft place—one centered somewhere near Nashville. Now, on her first album in seven years, she and producer Howie Epstein blend her rock and country impulses into a smooth, self-confident style. She didn't sound bad before; now she sounds terrific. (Reprise)

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