On her third album, Adrienne Young continues yet also expands on her earlier efforts. Although the Florida-born, Nashville-based performer maintains a rustic Americana feel from her first two discs, she has also polished up her sound. It is apparent from the rousing leadoff track "All for Good," a full-bodied, lightly twangy pop tune that would have fit in nicely with the Lilith Fair scene. After returning to her bluegrass roots, (as well as showcasing her banjo picking) on the second cut, "Sgt. Early's Dream/Maids of Castlebar," she dives into the disc's strongest section. On winning tunes like "Room to Grow," "In Between the Heartbeats" and "High Flyin' Dream," Young appealingly balances Americana rootsiness with poppier Nashville melodicism. It's interesting that her writing partners this time around not only include longtime collaborator Will Kimbrough but also Music City songwriter Mark D. Sanders (whose songs have been covered by the likes of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Lee Ann Womack). While Young hasn't forsaken her backporch musical ways, she does create a slightly more sophisticated sound here. Her husky, honeyed voice feels right at home in this warm, more refined setting, whether on her own lovely ballad "Givin' Up the Fight" or duetting with Phish's Mike Gordon on the old country chestnut "Once More." Her other cover is a pleasant if rather conventional rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris," which does hint at some jammy tendencies that surface later in "How Is This World Better Now." She's better served in the galloping country rocker "Dark Around the Moon," a tune that adds some grittiness to the disc. While Young is very politically active (particularly in environmental issues), she is writing more about the politics of the heart here than world politics. Still, her interests show up in her lyrics, which are filled with images of nature, animals and the Earth. A very accomplished effort, Room to Grow also is very much an album about artistic growth and it will be interesting to see how Young grows as an artist in the future.
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AllMusic Review by Michael Berick
feat: Mike Gordon