Anita Cochran

Anita

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Anita Cochran let a dangerously long three years slide by before the release of a follow-up to her debut, but though the album is a somewhat more compromised effort than her first album, raves are once again in order. Cochran is a triple threat: she writes songs steeped in country tradition yet distinctly individual, sings them in a throaty voice that sounds alternately like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Wynonna (who guests on the characteristically sassy "God Created Woman"), and plays her own lead guitar breaks. That probably seemed like a more commercial proposition in 1997, when traditionalists like Deena Carter and Trisha Yearwood were the reigning queens of country, but in the late '90s, when the crossover dreams of Shania Twain and Faith Hill were the rule, a straight-ahead country performer like Cochran must seem a dicier proposition. So Warner Brothers Nashville hedged its bets by imposing some outside songwriting, including an inevitable Diane Warren ballad. At least in a couple of cases, that's all the better: The uptempo "For Crying Out Loud" sounds like a potential hit; and "Let the Guitar Do the Talkin'" gives Cochran the opportunity to trade licks with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. But all the other best songs are Cochran's own compositions, especially the ballad "You With Me" and "Every Time It Rains." All of which is to say that Anita is a consistent straight country album that sounds like it has three or four hits on it. But it is also a risky effort because it sounds like the kind of record Nashville wanted in the early '90s. Maybe Anita Cochran can turn things around. If not, she can still make a living playing guitar.

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