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Album review: Sarah Buxton, "Sarah Buxton"

By Bill Friskics-Warren

Late-blooming newcomer Sarah Buxton - she turns 30 in July - definitely falls on the "girls who rock" side of the divide in contemporary country music (as opposed to the "divas who just stand there and sing"). The Kansas native doesn't play any guitar on this debut. But from the way her voice feeds off the record's surging rhythm parts and careening leads, she obviously has more of an affinity with the strapping heartland sound than with big billowy ballads.

(Plucky, resilient, convincing, after the jump.)

On the album's leadoff track, an autobiographical anthem with everywoman overtones, she belts out lines about being "strong, proud and beautiful" as a pair of electric guitarists lay down flinty rhythms that would sound right at home on one of Neil Young's countrier records. As her band shifts into gear on "Radio Love," Buxton shouts, "Louder, louder, louder, louder - yeah," before launching into a paean to the headlong rush of hearing some brash, hooky rocker erupt from the airwaves.

Singing in coarse timbres that suggest a country cross between Melissa Etheridge and Stevie Nicks, Buxton (who co-wrote all but one song here) typically plays the part of a plucky, resilient young woman. And she's convincing, too. It doesn't matter whether she's contemplating having to break out her "fat jeans" on a day where she's "between a cry and a laugh" or telling a dissembling beau who wants "more space" what he can do with it.

The last of these, "Space," is one of maybe three or four ballads on the album, and a rare minor-key one for Nashville's uplift-obsessed Music Row.

Recommended tracks: "Radio Love," "Space," "That Kind of Day"

By David Malitz  |  February 23, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags: Sarah Buxton  
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Next: Album review: Quasi, "American Gong"

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