Heidi Newfield

What Am I Waiting For

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What Am I Waiting For is the debut solo effort for singer and songwriter Heidi Newfield, former frontwoman of the contemporary country trio Trick Pony. Produced by the legendary Tony Brown, the set appears after its initial hit single, "Johnny and June," about country music's most legendary couple. Written with Deanna Bryant and Stephony Smith, this is exactly what you might expect from pop-country in the 21st century: huge compressed guitars, rock vocals, and some acoustic guitars and pedal steels to make it "country." To be honest, while the song is well crafted, Brown's production simply melds it in to the morass that is "everything else" in country instead of crowning it with the Sheryl Crow hooky sheen he seems to have sought. The title track, with its nearly subliminal backing vocals, mandolin, and electric guitar in the intro, fares far better. The tune feels more like country music instead of generic pop, and its lyric content offers an honest portrait of restlessness and wanderlust -- and it's got a killer chorus on the refrain that features Ashley Cleveland on backing vocals. For those who've been listening to guitarist Kenny Greenberg for years, he's the man up front here, but the unbearably compressed roar of his six-string takes away from his trademark sound. Other tracks that are notable here include "Nothin' Burns Like a Memory," with its curiously funky backbeat in the verse before exploding like a Gretchen Wilson rocker (it was written with former Trick Pony partner Ira Dean), and the Hillary Lindsey-penned power ballad narrative "Cry Cry ('Til the Sun Shines)." Ultimately, while this record succeeds in terms of its songwriting, there is little to distinguish its sound from its countless contemporaries. Newfield is a very talented songwriter and a kinetic vocalist who has both the power and the charisma to succeed in Nashville -- otherwise she wouldn't have gotten a chance at a solo career. That said, here's hope that this recording will do well enough and she can choose a hungrier, more imaginative producer next time out.

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