Joy Lynn White

Fans of Linda Ronstadt's versions of "Different Drum," "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" and "Heatwave" should feel instantly at home with Joy Lynn White's latest album. White's voice and delivery have much in common with the former Stone Poneys front woman. Sassy, sad, contemplative, reverent, flippant, sultry, swaggering, sexy, hurt, pissed off -- name a mood and White will hit it. Probably with both fists.Those who follow the Nashville underground will recognize some of the songs on One More Time, nine of which White wrote. "Love Sometimes" and "Keep This Love Alive" were lynchpins of the first Pinmonkey album from 2002. Producer Kyle Lehning, who has generated hits for the likes of Randy Travis, gives each track a radio-ready feel without watering down the performances to match prevailing country radio standards. The effect is like listening to an album of obscure classics or one-hit wonders, a Joy Lynn White Nuggets, if you will.

"Girls with Apartments in Nashville," co-written by White with guitarist Duane Jarvis, could easily be the most soulful and honest country song this year; the only competition would be her riveting, empathetic cover of Phil Lee's touching yet brutal "Just Some Girl." When White rocks out, she doesn't fool around; whether it's an old-school revival of Naomi Neville's "Certain Girl" or on her own chin-thrust-out statement "Good Rockin' Mama," she'll quickly have you saying "Gretchen who?"

White undoubtedly possesses one of the great female voices in Americana. She is also a top-shelf writer. The suits at Columbia Records knew this when they put out two White albums in the mid-'90s before placing her on the shelf in favor of the more, shall we say, "controllable" Dixie Chicks. I suspect that after hearing this monster record, they'll be wondering what they were thinking when they let Joy Lynn White quietly slip away.

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William Michael Smith