Picks and Pans Review: Michelle Wright
If they decide to move the capital of country music from Nashville to Saskatoon one of these days, don't be surprised. From such long-established performers as Anne Murray to such newcomers as k.d. lang, Lori Yates and Sass Jordan, the Canadian influx is making more and more of an impact.
Add Wright to that list, with a gold star or a maple leaf or something next to her name. A 29-year-old product of Merlin, Ont., she has a deep, hearty singing style that will evoke thoughts of such people as Carly Simon, Lacy J. Dalton and Barbara Mandrell, and she applies it to an appealing variety of songs on this U.S. debut album.
A number of them were written by her co-producers, Rick Giles and Steve Bogard, with songs from such other Nashville names as Charlie Black, Don Schlitz and Matraca Berg.
"As Far as Lonely Goes" (Janis Ian-Berg) is particularly evocative: "You would never buy a bottle/ To wash away your troubles/ If you could buy a suitcase for your soul." And Wright can get charged up, too, on such tracks as "The Dust Ain't Settled Yet" (Craig Bickhardt-Schlitz-Brent Maher) and "Wide Open" (Black-Bogard).
Wright used Nashville studio musicians rather than her own band to back her up on this album, which might have cost it a taste or two of spontaneity, but she has a strong, melodic sound and is otherwise a convincing argument for keeping the borders open. (Arista)