Jo Dee Messina, "Unmistakable Love"

70 Billboard Rating

Jo Dee Messina's fifth album, "Unmistakable Love," arrives at a time when country music finds itself in desperate need of new material from solo female artists who can deliver the goods. Enter the feisty redhead, whose "Unmistakable Love" is the first in a trilogy of albums to be released seasonally through autumn. In fine voice throughout, Messina opens the set with "Hard Life," a melodic, swaying jaunt sure to resonate with core country fans. Her own life experiences bring an authenticity to her vocal delivery on the optimistic "Welcome to the Rest of My Life," where she declares, "You wait your whole life for one moment/If it ever comes, you pray your eyes are open/To see the answer to love's mystery/I'm waving goodbye to love the way I knew it/And I'm taking you with me." The singer has always known her way around a country ballad, and she wears those shoes comfortably on the soaring "Unmistakable" and the tender "I'm Home." This is all-grown-up country music, delivered by a seasoned pro who sings with authority about the human condition. --Wade Jessen