BILLY MONTANA”S “BRING ON THE RAIN” CUT ON JO DEE”S NEW ALBUM
Jo Dee Messina (Curb)
With her Mae West-meets-Janis Joplin persona, Messina isn't likely to end up doing one of those commercials in which a frail-voiced singer with a Lilith Fair whine rhapsodizes over house paint or eyeglasses. More power to her. Messina is a country artist who isn't afraid to let her voice sound lived-in. When she sings about the wisdom of "rolling with the punches," she makes it sound as if she knows whereof she sings.
A follow-up to I'm Alright, her 1998 breakthrough album, Burn brims with gritty, penetrating tunes such as "Down Time," "Saturday Night" and "Bring On the Rain," on which Messina's pal (and the album's coproducer) Tim McGraw duets. The album could use a change of pace or two, but Messina's rough-hewn charm, reminiscent of '70s country singer Lacy J. Dalton, is ingratiatingly unaffected.
Bottom Line: The first of the new red-hot mamas.
-- RALPH NOVAK