Among the comely crop of pre-voting-age singers, here's one whose voice turns more heads than her wardrobe. Eschewing teenage flightiness without coming across as a girl wearing mom's high heels, 17-year-old Elliott sounds at times like the young Bonnie Raitt, in lighter moments like Patty Loveless. A country prodigy from Muscle Shoals, Ala., who has been performing alongside such stars as Lorrie Morgan since age 9, Elliott was 15 when she was signed by MCA in 1998. The label got a bargain; she's its most talented teen singer since Brenda Lee. Armed with a surprisingly hearty, bluesy tone, she also cowrote two of the most appealing of this album's 11 songs. Fortunately, producers Tony Brown and Jeff Teague don't overburden her fledgling composing skills. With tunes by such esteemed writers as Matraca Berg and Brent Bourgeois and backed by a veteran band that includes keyboardists Steve Nathan and Matt Rollings and fiddler Larry Franklin, Elliott displays a seasoned vocalist's ability to shift tempos and moods.
Bottom Line: LeAnn Rimes is no longer country's best teen singer