August 29, 1988 12:00 PM

Kim Carnes

Longtime Californian Carnes, having changed labels, went to Nashville to record this album and the trip paid off. It’s a subtly countrified production that represents only a slight transition from Carnes’s usual pop-rock style, but the occasional harshness that has crept into her voice in the past is gone. This record jumps, it swings, it soothes, it frolics; it never grates. She and veteran Nashville producer Jimmy Bowen (it would take less space to list the people he hasn’t worked with than those he has) open the record with a brief mandolin-fiddle instrumental preface, brandishing it as if it were a musical visa they needed to work in Nashville. After that, Carnes, sounding wonderfully relaxed and justifiably pleased with herself, sails through 10 generally splendid tunes. Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, a moody John Prine song that Carnes exploits affectingly, includes a pungent harmony vocal by Lyle Lovett and some sweet Cajun accordion fills by John Cascella of John Cougar Mellencamp’s band. Bruce Hornsby (on accordion for Brass & Batons), harmonizers Vince Gill and Steve Wariner, and Nashville session standbys Mark O’Connor and Leland Sklar are among the supporting cast too. Carnes rocks engagingly on the Troy Seals-Frankie Miller tune Heartbreak Radio, sounds convincingly romantic on Even Stevens’ Crazy in Love and has a good time even on a slightly denatured, subfunky version of the Johnny Otis classic Willie and the Hand Jive. Nashville is not exactly foreign territory for Carnes; her 1980 duet with Kenny Rogers, Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer, was her first major hit. So this is in the nature of a homecoming, and it’s a happy one. (MCA)

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