Jo Dee Messina

Unmistakable: Drive

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In terms of commercial success, it was always Jo Dee Messina's kiss-off singles that burned up the charts: the kind of high-octane highway jams that radio listeners could shout in their cars and at their bars. Though the first two EPs Messina released in her Unmistakable trilogy, Unmistakable: Love and Unmistakable: Inspiration, were compelling and comprehensive, they lacked the certain fire that has always been ablaze in Messina's commercial endeavors. Because of this, it's not surprising that the final release of her Unmistakable trilogy, aptly titled Unmistakable: Drive, is easily her most awaited, and her strongest. The eight tracks on this extended play disc are a sharper set and a more varied mix than the first two, particularly thanks to "Biker Chick," an undervalued roar of a single that finally made its way onto an album list, and "Real Man," her best independent-woman chant in the set. In this collection, Messina has co-written three songs, two of which, "One Day Closer" and "Just Drive," are some of her best self-penned works to date -- sentimental anthems underlying the theme of being strong and moving on -- which are ever more powerful knowing that they are coming from an artist who has faced her handful of hardships during her 15 years in the country music scene. Unmistakable: Drive brings together some of Messina's strongest content with the help of electric guitars, slicing vocals, and a heaping spoonful of sass. Plus Messina plays it smart by serving up acoustic versions of two of her biggest singles to date, "I'm Alright" and "Lesson in Leavin'," to remind fans why they loved her the first time these singles came around. What makes this album such a great listen is that the listener is truly getting classic Jo Dee at her best: a tell-it-like-it-is firecracker with a penchant for wanting it all and getting what she wants -- and this collection of tracks proves that no matter how long her fans don't hear from her, Jo Dee Messina will always put out straight-up, excellent crossover country music.