Picks and Pans Review: The Innocent Years

updated 05/08/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Kathy Mattea (Mercury)

Kathy Mattea never was Nashville's biggest party girl. But now that she has turned 40, she has hit a nostalgic phase, at least judging from this slightly sobersided though still enjoyable album. The nostalgia is most apparent in the title track, in which Mattea (who cowrote the tune) sings of wanting to go "back to where my vision is clear/ Back to the days of the innocent years." In "Why Can't We," she also celebrates the past, specifically the achievements of older generations. "That's the Deal" addresses how a husband copes with his wife's stroke. In places, this album sounds positively ruminative and New Agey. It comes as a relief, in fact, to hear the lively, playful "BFD," a song devoted to abbreviations: "At least he ain't no S.O.B. like that Ph.D./ That took his ex and ran off to L.A." ("BFD" stands, roughly speaking, for "big flippin' deal.")

Bottom Line: Thinking fan's singer ages thoughtfully

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