March 26, 2001 12:00 PM

LeAnn Rimes (Curb)

Rimes groused about this album during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In an ongoing dispute with Curb Records, her label since she was 12, Rimes has suggested that the album was cobbled together out of leftover tracks from previous albums without her cooperation. In fact, Rimes has filed a lawsuit, “which is pending, against Curb and her own producer father, Wilbur Rimes. And yet her father has issued a statement calling I Need You “one of the best albums LeAnn has ever recorded.” A girl should listen to her dad. The highlight is “Written in the Stars,” a duet with Elton John on his tune from Aida. The rest is also first-rate. With her big, deep voice, Rimes emotes as easily and effusively as Cher (one of whose favorite composers, Diane Warren, wrote three of the 10 songs). Although she’s still only 18, Rimes can even pull off the big-time romantic turmoil of “Together, Forever, Always,” which she wrote herself.

Bottom Line: Tangy pop fare from country’s teen queen

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