Lisa Dames,
If These Walls Could Talk
(Waffle Ranch, 2004)

Lisa Dames' If Walls Could Talk features a honey-voiced singer, some clean new country songs and a backup vocal group called the Neenerettes. There's pretty much nothing to dislike.

But there's also not much to hear in the first place. Six songs hardly give a performer room to show off range. The two cover songs, "Viva Las Vegas" and "Shake, Rattle & Roll," make the album even weaker. Though Dames' performance of the songs is enjoyable, the sheer weight of their history -- and the undeniable charm and dazzle of the songs -- makes them outweigh the four original tracks.

Her four originals are solid but unsurprising country tunes, and it's not fair to make them fight against longstanding classics. Dames' vocals, too, gain no benefit from covering songs made famous by other strong voices. And just when the album is really coming together, players and music creating their own sense of place, the performance is over.

It's a testament to Lisa Dames that her voice supports songs made famous by the likes of Dolly Parton. It's easy, hearing her, to understand why she's at the head of Patsy Cline impersonators. She may not have the emotional power of country's classic diva, but Dames has a smooth, honest presentation and a range rare in any genre. Hopefully she'll choose to share a bit more of it in future releases.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 20 August 2005

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