A Nashville Songbook

Mandy Barnett

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A Nashville Songbook Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

A Nashville Songbook is a self-explanatory title for Mandy Barnett's 2020 covers album but it isn't quite as straightforward as its name suggests. Working with producer Fred Mollin, Barnett chose a number of standards she often sings in concert, concentrating on country yet finding space for pop and rock standards that could also conceivably be called children of Music City. The result is a set that is grounded in the '50s and '60s both in terms of repertoire and sound. When Barnett departs from this period, as she does on the opening "I Love a Rainy Night," she molds it to her aesthetic, a move that helps unify the album and gives it a warm, sweet vibe. Sometimes, A Nashville Songbook skews slightly toward feeling like a cabaret revue, yet Barnett has the chops to keep this lively and engaging even when the songs and sound feel quite familiar.

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