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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Nashville vocalist, Mandy Barnett has one of the finest singing voices of Music City, and though too pure for today’s country market she is still an act critics of the art love to see have a new record out. Strange Conversation is produced by Marco Giovino and guitarist Doug Lancio, and it has a classy sound (typical of her Music). The kind you used to associate with older Nashville. Though a slow burner, it will invariably grow on you. If I have any reservations it lies with the material. I believe a couple or more tracks could have been stronger, and yes there’s occasionally she deserves better. Yet even on the weaker tracks she still makes a good fist.
Standouts include The Fool, opening cut More Lovin’ (arguably thealbums finest) and the spirited Putting On The Dog. Plus with keyboards nicely to the fore and a 1960s pop feel It’s All Right (You’re Just In Love). Her vocals and all round presentation has class stamped all over it. Hints of Motown even. Whatever it is, she nails it. Barnett is light years ahead of the majority of most all of today’s country acts.
Others of note include the slide guitar doused album closer Put A Chain On It, and with it also containing some fine harmonica work a tasty blues edge creeps in. Her classy tones extract every nuance from the lyrics. Title-track Strange Conversation with its organ warming her enticing vocals a funky feel takes hold, and though not brilliant she Barnett makes sure it fits. Better fare comes in the shape of A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done. Maybe her next album will be the one to do her full justice?
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