Linda McRae & Cheerful Lonesome Cryin' Out Loud

Cryin’ Out Loud, the sophomore release for Linda McRae and Cheerful Lonesome, is chock full of confident songwriting and excellent musicianship. I’d expect no less from someone who spent eight years with fellow West coasters Spirit of the West. During that gig, McRae wrote enough material for her debut solo album Flying Jenny. Now, we find her with a great backing band and more tuneful melodies. Her voice, however, doesn’t have the dynamic range to fully sweeten many of the songs. While "Put the Hurt Back in the Bottle” and "These Are The Things” do well with McRae’s warm, comforting vocals, "Momma” and "Girl With No Tomorrow” require more highs than she can deliver. However, she sings best when accompanied with harmonies, as with "Strength, Hope, and Love” and "Falling Off the Face of the World.” Still, Linda McRae is a great songwriter and is definitely a shining light in Canadian country music. (Black Hen)