Picks and Pans Review: Show Me How

updated 02/23/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/23/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Lorrie Morgan

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Morgan, who made her Grand Ole Opry debut at 13, is hardly a country ingenue anymore. But at 44, the singer is maturing with uncommon grace. Though she still sings with plenty of the sensuous zest that made her a star, she is taking advantage of the fact that her voice, while deepening and darkening with age, has also gotten warmer. And her sense of humor has sharpened, so that she can fittingly sing "Do You Still Wanna Buy Me That Drink (Frank)?" a clever song about a single mom fending off a bar pickup. She is equally unabashed on "Bombshell," a tune about fading beauty ("Are those really my thighs?") that might have hit too close to home for a less secure woman. She and longtime producer Richard Landis enhance her still-swingy style with such adroit backup musicians as mandolinist Aubrey Haney, guitarist Larry Byrum and steel guitarist Paul Franklin. If she wanted to, Morgan could probably follow Suzy Bogguss and Crystal Gayle into pop/jazz realms, but as it is, she's still the best honky-tonk angel this side of Kitty Wells.

COUNTRY

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