A Reined-In Ride Through Ronstadt Country; Mazzy’s Fuzzy Dreamland

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“The Song Remembers When”


** 1/2

Yearwood’s last album, “Hearts in Armor,” instantly positioned her as one of country’s most winsome, winningest young talents. On that superlative collection, she mixed her natural penchant for the heartbreak pop balladry of Linda Ronstadt with the kind of boot-scootin’ upbeat charmers that showed she could hold her own in a honky-tonk.

But on this third effort, the languid Ronstadt veneration has almost totally supplanted the sass. Only one cut, “Ain’t Got You,” counts as a rocker; the slow- to mid-tempo tunes that round it out have sure highlights among them, but Yearwood’s appeal has effectively just been cut in half. The equation here is too much Revlon, not enough rev .

Yearwood’s seamless vocals are fetching enough that no one’s likely to complain about the ballad-heavy pacing when the material is there. And sometimes it is, as with the title track, in the tried-but-true genre of songs about songs and the triggers they set off in our helpless souls. The album’s other bookend, “Lying to the Moon,” is also an especially evocative lament, with sympathetic nature inevitably proving a better friend than man.


When the material’s just average, you may notice her vocals aren’t always as soulful as they are supple, and at this point she still conveys youthful longing more surely than the wised-up bitterness some tunes call for. This is an above-par country-pop album, but not the one that really makes good on Yearwood’s considerable promise.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).