Gina Lee

Where Ya Been?

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With the release of Where Ya Been? in 2004, Gina Lee joins an ever-expanding cadre of retro-country performers who fall under the banner of No Depression. Listening to Lee's vocal twang and the whine of a steel guitar, it's easy to imagine her as a contemporary of Kitty Wells, not Shania Twain. But it's doubtful that categories and time lines will really matter to the listener once he or she puts Where Ya Been? in the disc player. Lee's a fine singer, and puts a lot of passion into songs like "Little Gold Band" and "Layer of Frost." If she sings happily about the man she left behind or sadly about the man who got away, the listener buys into it. It doesn't hurt that she has a heck of a band, with steel player Cindy Cashdollar offering tastefully dreamy leads and guitarists Slim Richey and Redd Volkaert ripping off some nice solos. The arrangements are solid, but it's the fine production that gives the album an old-fashioned ambience, as though it were recorded on analog tape, circa 1953. Lee's also a good writer, penning material that fits snugly between a few old favorites like "Crying Steel Guitar Waltz" and Hank Williams' "Long Gone Lonesome Blues." Country fans from yesteryear along with the progressive country crowd will enjoy Lee's straightforward approach to the classic sound.

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