Highway 101 has lost its lead singer Paulette Carlson to the lure of a solo career. But think of her departure as a pothole that has been smoothly patched over.
Not only does the group graciously salute Carlson in the liner notes but her replacement, Nikki Nelson (her most recent gigs were as a waitress in Nashville), sings with the same zesty, tough but tuneful delivery.
The similarities in Nelson's style carry over to the vague lack of emotion that characterized Carlson's vocals, but as rockified country groups go, Highway 101 has stayed on track.
Two of the band's veterans, Curtis Stone and Cactus Moser, have writing credits on the album, though the hit title track, by Hugh Prestwood, and the more thoughtful Red Lane-Larry Henley tune "Till I Get It Right" are probably more memorable.
If Carlson gets along as well without the group as they get along with out her, she'll be in fine shape. (Warner Bros.)