It should be a matter of concern only to music reviewers and record-store clerks that newcomer Jessi Alexander is so hard to categorize. But pop or country, blues or bluegrass, this is one terrific debut. A cross between Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow, Alexander is alternately mellow and kicky, romantic and cynical. "I'd Run Right Back to You," for instance, catches her in affectionate mode, while "Reasons to Run" analyzes the situation more harshly. Born in Jackson, Term., Alexander, 28, has country roots that show through on occasion. She was named after Jessi Colter, widow of Waylon Jennings and a singer whose delicate style is not unlike Alexander's. But Alexander, who had a hand in writing all 11 songs, incorporates a little urban toughness along with the rural heart. Producer Gary Nicholson and backup musicians like Benmont Tench, Tom Petty's keyboard player, provide a comfortable setting for Alexander, helping this singer make a great first impression.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Make Me Stay or Make Me Go"