Terri Clark may be a glamour queen, with lots of high style and flash. But then so is Dwight Yoakam, and he's a hell of a singer and songwriter, right? Clark is a honky angel singer with ambition, taste, looks, and a voice that's as big as a canyon. Oh yeah, and she's a fine songwriter as well. So bring on the glamour if it brings out the music. Luke Lewis over at Mercury has got to believe in this woman -- she gets a producer's credit alongside Keith Stegall! Not every country singer or songwriter gets a production say on her second record. And this one develops the strengths that made her debut so compelling, even if it was flawed. Choosing to cover Warren Zevon's "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" after the Linda Ronstadt version takes guts. But Clark has more than that; her version is as valid as her predecessor's and as full of rock & roll heart as the songwriter's own version.
Other than this, Clark, Chris Waters, and Tom Shapiro wrote the majority of this album. They're a decent team, though the fullness of Clark's potential as an emotive artist -- without sentimentality -- is not exploited in these songs. They are solid, they belong here, and they're good listening, but given what she is obviously capable of, they are workmanlike. Other than the aforementioned, the best two tracks on the set are "Something in the Water," where Clark gets her blues growl out into the mix, "Twang Thang," which is as tough as anything Alan Jackson ever wrote and sung with twice the verve and grit, and the ballad "Keeper of the Flame," which Clark wrote on her own. In this song, the protagonist's hope is what keeps a relationship together, and in the grain of her voice one can hear both weariness and determination; when she gets to the top of her contralto in the refrain, chills run down the listener's spine and recall the fine songs of Lacy J. Dalton, Trisha Yearwood when she was a singer instead of a status symbol, and Loretta Lynn when trying to deliver a countrypolitan song with Kentucky grit. She's not there yet, but so close you can hear the train coming all the way round the bend. Pick it up.