Cindy Lee Berryhill

Straight Outta Marysville

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Berryhill is like the baseball pitcher who tosses fine games every fourth or fifth outing. If you happen to see one of those games, you'd have no idea why the pitcher couldn't perform like that all of the time. By the same token, if you only heard Berryhill's best tracks, you'd think she was a major singer-songwriter, or at least on the verge of becoming one. That's what happens here: when she cuts the schtick and just concentrates on the heart of the matter, as on "California" or "Unwritten Love Song" (her most soulful vocal ever), she sounds like a real contender. The rest of the time she doesn't sing or write as well, making one wish she could turn on the juice more, or at least focus on singing expressively instead of dropping into her comfortable talky mannerisms so often.

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