Dreams of the Heartland
(Garden-Mound, 2005)

Petrella serves a deep-dish country sound, slipping onto the scene from Hot Springs, Arkansas. She's definitely a country singer, but her voice has an urban twang and you can't listen to her without thinking of Tina Turner.

Now that's out of the way, so we can talk about Petrella's own style, which is unforgettable after one listen. "Running for the Border" is lively, "Feel a Drought" has a yearning sound, "Paint It the USA" describes a true patriot, reminding us of the beauty, strength, and humanity that still exists.

Dreams of the Heartland is a full-bodied piece that pulls you into the south, into the west, and it's a little too funky to be blues, a little too country to be jazz, so Petrella walks a new line called country soul.

Certainly, Petrella is a one-of-a-kind on the scene. Her music follows its own track, but it goes through straight into the big land of country music, and yet it opens the door to a new sound. Rather than sticking to the standard country fare, the formula of old hits, she dishes up new words, new thoughts and a special place for that distinctive voice of hers.

Petrella and Davis Scheffler collaborate on the songs, and the backgound vocalists are worth mentioning because I liked that layer: Natisse, Burnadette Jones and Dennis Clark.

"Fixin'" has a bit of blues and a bumpy grind-groove. "Riverbed Home" tells the tale of those who live in the interval of a river or a delta bed and face the regular flood. Her voice cries their sorrow and speaks for all who face the forces of disaster.

There's no reason this woman shouldn't have a wide following across the country, if this CD is anything to go by. "From This Moment On" brings out the smoother tones in her voice, proving she can croon a happy wedding song as well as she does the more serious songs on this album.

Petrella's Dreams of the Heartland is worth having a listen to with her great guitar, high energy and cool lyrics. And have a go at Countryversial, released in 1993, while you're at it.

by Virginia MacIsaac
2 September 2006

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