Since she has already made waves as a songwriter, the time would appear right for Carolyn Dawn Johnson to emerge as a performer.

Since she has already made waves as a songwriter, the time would appear right for Carolyn Dawn Johnson to emerge as a performer. With the help of producer Paul Worley's savvy commercial touch, she is on her way. As a vocalist, Johnson alternates between power and subtlety. The steady-rolling belter "Georgia," with effective harmony from Martina McBride, is a choice cut, and Johnson turns sultry and swampy on "Just Another Girl." There is some country-pop here but often with an edge, as on "Love Is Always Worth the Ache" and "Complicated," the lilting, well-written debut single. "Masterpiece" is delicate and heartfelt, and "One Day Closer to You" is a contemporary-sounding "country grrrl" anthem. Radio-friendly without sacrificing backbone and lyrical flair, this may be what we have to live with as mainstream country compromises between art and commerce—and in Johnson's case, at least, that's not such a hard way to go.—RW

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