Whereas 2005’s underwhelming All American Bluegrass Girl proudly flouted its hard-line traditionalism, Good Thing Going, the latest album from Rhonda Vincent and her stellar backing band, the Rage, finds the bluegrass star aiming for a more mainstream country sound. While it’s a better album overall than her previous effort, its smooth production and uneven song selection don’t always play to Vincent’s strengths. What distinguishes Vincent from the artist to whom she’s most frequently compared, Alison Krauss, is her aggressive vocals; perhaps more so than any contemporary country singer, Vincent’s power and phrasing recall the great Connie Smith. Songs like the hymn “I Will See You Again” and the traditional ballad “The Water Is Wide,” which boasts an understated harmony vocal from Keith Urban, showcase Vincent’s ability to rein in her massive voice when it’s in service of the song, but too much of Good Thing Going sounds restrained. Opener “I’m Leavin’” and the bitter “Who’s Cryin’ Baby” give Vincent opportunities to cut loose, and they’re easily the highlights of the album. It’s no coincidence that those two tracks, along with closing “Bluegrass Saturday Night,” also give the Rage the most to do. With such a talented band supporting her, the relatively tepid countrypolitan production of the title track and “I Gotta Start Somewhere” becomes a more serious flaw, though it’s unlikely that livelier production or performances could overcome the dated songwriting of “Just One of a Kind” or the cover of Jimmy Martin’s “Hit Parade of Love.” Vincent is a major talent—in addition to her vocal chops, she’s an excellent mandolin player and often shows a keen ear in re-arrangements of bluegrass standards—but Good Thing Going only intermittently hints at her capabilities, which makes it a frustrating listen and keeps it from being the kind of project that would broaden her fanbase.
- Release Date
- January 13, 2008
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