Delineating the degree of autobiographical content in the work of singer/songwriters is always an interesting, if dicey, parlor game, but in some cases it's hard to avoid. Is Angie Stevens singing about herself in the ten of 11 songs she wrote or co-wrote for her third album Queen of This Mess? Is she writing a fictional account of characters she has created, either ones that continue from song to song or that are different in each lyric? Who knows? What can be reported is that, over and over, the songs are narrated in the first person by a woman and directed to a "you" who seems to be a man with whom she is, or has been, involved romantically. And in every single case, things are not going well. Why that is, is not clear, although geographical distance may have something to do with it. (The singer speaks of being "out here on the road" in "Coming Home.") Stevens is less interested in explaining why the couple is having trouble than in expressing the woman's feelings about it, and that woman is, as she puts it in "This Time Around," "this insecure girl." "The fool is me," she admits in the same song, repeating it as "I'm a fool" in "Ship Song." Her foolishness seems to lie in expecting something from her man that he is not giving. In "This Time Around," briefly putting herself in the third person, she mentions "all the things she wished you'd say," and again in "This River," "so many, many things I hope you'd say." But "oh can you remember the things you said?," she asks in "Give It on Back," one of two kiss-off songs in which she seems to have decided to give up on the relationship. The other is "Drinking Song," in which she drowns her sorrows with "lemon drops and Coors Light." Throughout, she sings of her troubles over attractive country-folk arrangements, usually at ballad tempos, although she speeds up a little when she's edging closer to a breakup, as on "Give It on Back." Most of the time, however, this is slow, moody music in which she ruminates over a love that isn't right, but that she still thinks can be saved. At album's end, she is repeating the chorus of "Ship Song," "You ain't giving up on me yet."
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann