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Cut To Impress by Maggie Rose

Maggie Rose is an interesting artistic experiment. On her album Cut to Impress, she clearly possesses the talent and looks to compete with country’s superstars, but she’s trying to do it outside the major label framework—a big challenge any way you slice it.

But regardless, Cut to Impress shows off Maggie’s engaging bluesy tendencies without straying too far from the country radio-friendly template. She is also quite adept at inhabiting whatever character is required of a song—heartbroken China doll (“Put Yourself in My Blues”), sassy vixen (“Mostly Bad,” “I Ain’t Your Mama”) or classic storyteller (“Looking Back Now”).

On that last persona, the album is actually 20 percent murder, with both “Preacher’s Daughter” and “Looking Back Now” examining grisly crimes, their conflicted perpetrators and the consequences.

Unfortunately, heavy-handed production on numbers like “Fall Madly in Love With You” obscures Maggie’s vocal talents, and “Hollywood” is a silly throwaway about California excess that’s way out of place.

She’s at her best on the songs that let her strut or bare her soul, like “Better.”

It’s an uneven collection, but with some promising moments.

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