The Academy of Country Music Awards on Wednesday (9) could be the first time many listeners hear the powerful, emotionally direct voice of Tammy Cochran, who was nominated as top new female vocalist o

The Academy of Country Music Awards on Wednesday (9) could be the first time many listeners hear the powerful, emotionally direct voice of Tammy Cochran, who was nominated as top new female vocalist on the strength of two auspicious but low-charting singles ("If You Can" and "So What"), both included here. On her debut album, Cochran delivers a set of songs that live up to her instrument. Throughout, unusually perceptive themes are set to ascending choruses and bridges that allow Cochran to showcase her belting chops. The current single, "Angels in Waiting"—a moving tribute, co-written by Cochran, to her two late brothers who suffered from cystic fibrosis—should further raise her profile. Radio should grab at the hooky "When Love Was Enough" and "Say Goodbye," on which the vocalist puts a modern spin on yodeling. Not least of her attributes is achieving country catharsis on the strength of the vocals and lyrics, rather than relying on overblown pop-leaning production. With some luck, this fine torch singer could become one of the format's true torchbearers.—AB

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