Rhonda Vincent

Only Me

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Often pegged as a bluegrass vocalist although she often sings pure country, Rhonda Vincent decided to split the difference on her 2014 album Only Me, serving up one disc of bluegrass and one disc of honky tonk. That the individual discs are not much longer than 20 minutes apiece only underscores the concept of this double album: it's designed to showcase the two sides of Vincent's personality and when added up, they present only her. Vincent relies on deep classics for the country disc -- she alternates standards like "Drivin' Nails in My Coffin" with savvy selections like Dallas Frazier's "Beneath Still Waters" -- and chooses to pepper the bluegrass disc with both originals and songs of relatively recent vintage, a move that doesn't necessarily make this half seem fresher because what distinguishes every one of the 12 songs is a vibrant commitment to tradition. Vincent and her supporting band -- which occasionally makes space for guest duets by Willie Nelson and Daryle Singletary -- throw themselves into these tunes, savoring the changes and neatly balancing skill with enthusiasm. If she sounds a little bit too sweet for honky tonk, her friendliness nevertheless gives the whole endeavor a sunny warmth that's hard to resist.

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