NPR recently declared 2013 “Country Music’s Year of the Woman.” With due respect to Ann Powers, Bonnie Whitmore wasn’t included in the discussion. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been. Comparing Whitmore to artists beholden to the Nashville music machine would do her a disservice.
This is not to label Whitmore a country artist or her latest release, There I Go Again, a slick Nashville album. It’s quite the opposite. When compared to her 2011 debut, Embers to Ashes, this new album is indeed more pop influenced. Pop in the vein of Heart’s late ’70s output.
Such loudness vacillates throughout the album, the same way attitude and tenderness form the yin and yang of There I Go Again. Loudness from Whitmore’s voice astutely paired with Chris Masterson’s production. The wrinkles from both that informed Embers to Ashes are ironed out here for the right reasons. From the piercing fiddle of “Reckless and Young” to the solemn acoustic guitar and piano of “Be the Death of Me,” Whitmore’s voice is never buried in the mix. It can dominate a song like “The Gavel” and yet be reigned in on “Colored Kisses.”
I will sing in mermaid tones but
Please don’t turn me to sea foam
Don’t be fooled, the same instruments and attitude that placed Whitmore in the Americana camp remain. “Crying Out for Me” is a direct relation to the songs on Embers to Ashes.
I get what I need
When you’re crying out for me
There I Go Again is a huge step forward for Whitmore and her team. To independently produce an album that suits Nashville’s every need should only serve to highlight the talents of a true artist, rather than the formulaic caricatures that pass for empowered women dominating today’s popular country music scene.
Flawless production aside, the strength of There I Go Again rests in Whitmore’s songwriting. It takes only one listen to create an ad hoc list of artists to cover each song with great success. While this may not sell albums, it’s Whitmore’s disposition to fight rather than fawn that’s endearing. If Embers to Ashes represented Whitmore’s tough-as-nails persona, There I Go Again showcases her artistic, soulful side. This is a definitely a statement album. She has made her album, her way. And this is why we love her and There I Go Again.
Stream There I Go Again below and purchase the album through This Is American Music.