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Review and Listening Party

Kelly Lang - Jagged Edges  
Album review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill

Some things are worth waiting for and one of those things just arrived in my mailbox this week. In 2004 when Kelly Lang released her debut album, It's About Time, I tossed her CD into my player and, with just one run through, I agreed fully with the title for a variety of reasons. I became an instant fan of her marvelous voice and it wasn't long before I discovered that, not only was it about time that she recorded a real album, but it was also about time she showcased her prolific songwriting skills and, on this project, she does just that. She wrote six of the seventeen (yep, seventeen) songs by herself and co-wrote on the other eleven. She decided to call her sophomore release Jagged Edges because the tracks on this album are what they refer to in the industry as rough cuts; they haven't been studio tweaked, filtered or refined in any way. The end result, as you will hear, however, is anything but rough and the only place jagged edges show up on this album, is in the title. 

With all due respect to Martina, whose fantastic voice can shoot right through you in the most delightful way and cause the hair to stand up on your arms for days afterward, Lang's incredible voice often causes the same reaction but the difference is you never see it coming. When she sings, it is so easy to lose yourself in the music and, before you know it, her voice has steeped into the deepest parts of your consciousness and weaved its way through a symbiotic chord that you never thought anyone would ever discover, let alone actually touch.


Now Playing
"I'm Not Going Anywhere"
"What Do You Do When You Don't"
"When I'm Gone"

Her lyrics are strong and sometimes so visual that you find yourself flinching. In "If I'd Only Known" she sings "If I'd know you would break my heart / Make it shatter all apart / I would have never let you in / I was fine just where I'd been / If I'd known you would rape my soul / Leave me to bleed out of control / I'd have never let you near / I was fine without you here" Like every great songwriter, Lang is perfectly capable of taking everything life throws at her, good or bad, and setting it to restorative music. The end results are songs full of empathy that touch your heart, lift your spirits, allow you to cry, and yet, never fail to leave you inspired. Lang hasn't had to go outside of her own life to be able to write about desperation or to seek inspiration. The sensitivity, passion, humor, compassion, and hope reflected in her songs is derived from parents who motivated and inspired her, a broken marriage that forced her to grow in new directions, two amazingly beautiful daughters who have taught her the meaning of unconditional love, and a ten round battle with cancer that has her emerging as an empowered survivor.

Lang is one of the new breed of singer/songwriters who are so creative they can't be labeled or confined to one genre but her allegiance to country music is crystal clear when "Under a Tennessee Moon" flows out of your speakers and fills the room like a magnolia blossom potpourri. On this specific track she is an ace ambassador for Music City and this song is the perfect anthem for the entire state of Tennessee. As she sings "Tennessee river, it runs through my veins / I still love to hear Smokey Mountain rain / Of all of the places that I have been to / I want to grow old Under a Tennessee moon;" you WILL believe her.

The final cut on this musical feast is "You Think You're Su-uh," co-written with good friends Lorrie Morgan and Mark Oliverius. This cut is just plain fun and if you listen closely, you will hear the background vocals are a universal childhood taunt, "na, nanna, na, na." It wouldn't surprise me if Paris Hilton discarded her trademark "hot" for "su-uh" since it has the perfect DNA to become a popular new catch phrase.

Lang sings "if you ain't su-uh / you ain't nu-uh" and you will know one thing for certain after hearing her new album; when it comes to beauty, talent and vocal acuity, Lang has cornered the market on "su-uh." This one is a definite keeper.

Editor's Note: "I'm Not Going Anywhere," track seven, will be featured in the new Burt Reynolds movie, "Deal," due to be released in August.

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