Terry Radigan,
(Vanguard, 2000)

In Terry Radigan's promo materials for Radigan she says, "I didn't want this to be a singer-songwritery kind of record." At first, I wasn't sure what she meant. In fact, being a singer-songwriter myself, I wondered if I should be offended. But from the first spin of this excellent disc, I understood.

Terry Radigan, unlike some singer-songwriters, knows how to write a hook. Her songs are radio-friendly and carefully crafted, no doubt a result of her many years on the competitive Nashville scene. She's an engaging performer, too, with finely tuned and soulful vocals plus impressive skills on guitar and piano. Her voice and performance reminds me of Shelby Lynne, another Nashville singer who now is enjoying the success she's long-deserved.

From the polished and contemporary approach of this record, it's clear that Terry Radigan is aiming for mainstream success. The album succeeds on many levels: it's consistent from beginning to end without being boring, the songwriting is uniformly hooky and accessible, the musicianship polished and professional. Although Terry Radigan is the chief songwriter, she shares credit with co-writers on four tracks and includes a Mark Knopfler track and a Greg Garing song. More pop than country, but with crossover appeal, Radigan will appeal to a wide range of listeners.

Radigan handles most of the guitar duties, with co-producers Kenny Greenberg and Justin Niebank adding electric guitars and drum programming. The album was produced largely in the friends' home-based studios and is a good example of how "big" sounds can come out of "small" studios as long as the players are excellent. Live musicians are added as necessary (Michael Rhodes on bass, Chad Cromwell on drums among others) and five songs (including the arresting "Everything Starts Out Small" and the particularly catchy "So What") include live viola/cello/violin arrangements that create a particularly lush sound.

Radigan looks and sounds big, from the clean and professional graphic design to the slick never-a-missed-note sound. (A quick note on the CD design though: I could have done without the provocative image on the disk itself. Sex sells maybe, but it also distracts.)

I've spun this disc about twenty times now, and it hasn't worn out yet. It's fun, slick and sassy. I hope it helps Terry Radigan get the attention she deserves.

[ by Joy McKay ]
Rambles: 30 December 2001

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