April 10, 2000 12:00 PM

Trisha Yearwood (MCA Nashville)

Album of the week

With every album, Yearwood sounds smarter and deeper. More musical. Better. This, her ninth album, is a thorough pleasure. After 10 years as a Nashville star, she has broadened her style to include hints of Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and even—in a sly (and deep-voiced) moment or two-Lyle Lovett. Yearwood, in fact, takes on Ronstadt’s old hit “Try Me Again,” and while nobody can match Ronstadt’s crystalline sensuality, Trisha makes a respectable effort. She also effectively evokes the poignant side of Bruce Springsteen in “Sad Eyes,” yet another in this album’s string of highlights. Another special pleasure is “Too Bad You’re No Good,” with nimble mandolin work by Sam Bush and clever lyrics: “Call a preacher/ Call the police/ With a man like you, it’s famine or feast.” Matraca Berg, whose emotional yet ironic songwriting sensibilities fit Yearwood’s style beautifully, cowrote three of the 12 tunes, even joining (in a beauty-and-the-beast match made in songwriters’ heaven) with Harlan Howard to create the rueful “Come Back When It Ain’t Rainin’.” Yearwood coproduced Real Live Woman with veteran Garth Fundis, and all three words in this CD’s title are confirmed by the result. One problem: How can she improve on this when it’s time for album No. 10?

Bottom Line: Here’s to not resting on your laurels

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