LeAnn Rimes has grown up in the public eye, and it has not always been easy to watch.
After bursting onto the music scene in 1996 at age 13 with a No. 1 country album and two Grammy Awards, her star shone brightly for several years before being overshadowed by a series of lawsuits, domestic squabbles, and trashy tabloid reports.
But Rimes, now 20 and recently married, appears to have put those troubles behind her and has emerged as a poised, confident young woman who finally has a strong sense of her own artistic voice — a voice that is now leaning in a decidedly pop direction. Nowhere is this more evident than on her eighth studio album, “Twisted Angel,” due Oct. 1 from Curb Records, her label home since the beginning of her career. Curb Records is distributed by WEA in the U.S.
The album, a collection of mature, revealing, and sometimes sexy songs, has Rimes’ fingerprints all over it. She executive-produced it, co-wrote four songs, and had input on the other nine. Every song was written especially for her during a “songwriting camp” at the Miami home of writer Desmond Child, who served as one of the album’s producers along with Peter Amato and Gregg Pagani.
In the process of creating the album, Rimes says she discovered her own musical style, one she describes as “really soulful. It’s a mixture of everything. I’ve blended urban and rock and a little bit of country on this record. I really made a point not to sound like anyone else. I don’t want the album to be so pop that it’s going to sound like every other girl out there.”
Having discovered her style, Rimes says she “wanted to take control of that. I didn’t want to give it over to someone and say, ‘You do this for me.’ I’m an artist, not just something you stick out there and sell. So I wanted to be so hands-on and be in every string session and [in on] choosing the musicians and arranging the vocals.
“This is where I am in my life,” she adds, “and this is the music I’ve always wanted to do.”
Mike Curb, founder and chairman of Curb Records, says: “It’s the first time LeAnn has made the album of her dreams. She’s really been the creative force behind this entire album.”
The songs have such themes as the challenges of living in a fishbowl, being under pressure to be perfect, and having a little “hell to pay.” Rimes says all of those things reflect not just the reality of her own life but those in the lives of “the youth of America.” That group, she says, “is going through so much crap, really, this pressure to be perfect and the popular one, and [pressure about] how to dress. In songs like ‘Wound Up,’ I really dealt with that.”
Rimes was schooled at home as a teen but says, “I’ve had pressure to be perfect from the time I walked out onstage when I was 13. I know the pressures — not in school — but I know this business, and it’s pretty much the same.”
Early stardom came with a price for Rimes. “I had a lot of responsibility thrown upon me at a young age. I was paying everybody’s bills. I had an entourage of about 65 people. If I don’t work, they don’t make money. I took on all the responsibility of a business at 13, and all I wanted to do was sing.
“I definitely got that out on this record [in] songs like ‘No Way Out,’ where I speak about that.”
The album’s first single, “Life Goes On,” appears to be off to a good start on U.S. radio stations, as it is No. 18 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, and the video is in rotation on VH1.
Fans will get a chance to see and hear the grown up Rimes in early-October appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Live With Regis and Kelly.”
“People either think I’m 13 or 25 by now; it’s so funny,” Rimes says. “But people need to let me change. Everyone else in the world gets to grow up and evolve and change their mind. I need that time, and I’ve done it in front of everyone, in a fishbowl.”
Excerpted from the Sept.21, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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