Karen Staley

Fearless

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The country charts are littered with the failed records of Nashville songwriters who, no matter how many hits they've written for others, can't seem to achieve any in their own right. Karen Staley, who wrote Tracy Byrd's "Keeper of the Stars," as well as Faith Hill's "Take Me As I Am" and "Let's Go to Vegas," tries to buck this trend with her debut, FEARLESS. She wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on the album, and is particularly adept at heartfelt lyrics about relationships. She also has a big, powerful voice which serves her well on rollicking numbers like "Breakin' All the Rules" and "Can't Get Enuff," as well as the gospel shouter "God Is In Control." On FEARLESS, Staley seems determined to show us the full range of her songwriting abilities, so we get the goofy "Hindsight is 20/20," an ode to the male posterior, as well as the social commentary of "Somebody's Child," which condemns the exploitation of women. Despite its serious topic, the latter song is a standout, with a gorgeous melody and harmonies by Vince Gill and Patty Loveless. Staley also recruited Trace Adkins, Anita Cochran and Diamond Rio's Jimmy Olander to help out on this occasionally audacious CD.

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