Followin' A Feelin' (WE Records)
Why isn't Sherrié Austin the enormous star she should be? Let's have a listen to Followin' A Feelin', her third and latest album, for answers.
It can't be her songwriting -- she co-wrote all but one of these 10 tracks, and they're all smart, gorgeously crafted, reliably catchy and emotionally resonant. "Back Where I Belong," for instance, is a bracing acoustic rocker with a deliriously pinballing melody, while "In The Meantime" is a finely honed portrait of youthful hopes dashed, in the mold of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days."
The problem can't be a lack of musical diversity, either -- the tunes on Followin' A Feelin' slide easily from the insistent Memphis soul groove of "My Brilliant Mistake" to the loping New Orleans shuffle of "Time, Love & Money" without ever losing sight of their country roots.
It can't be Sherrié's voice -- distinctive, honey-sweet, but strong enough to cut across the crackerjack band backing her up here. It's her bravado performance that elevates "Goin', Goin', Gone" from an above-average it's-over-and-I'm-leaving weeper to a sweeping heartbreaker. She takes on Dolly Parton's immortal "Jolene," fearlessly exploring all its scary, intimate corners, while two songs later, she's coyly playing up the gentle humor in the effortlessly swinging "Somethin' Missin' In The Kissin'."
So with all these things going for her, why doesn't Sherrié own the world? It can't be her Australian heritage, considering the recent run of Aussie chart-toppers, and it sure isn't her looks, unless beauty is suddenly a career liability.
Hey, here's an idea: Solve this dilemma yourself. Try Followin' A Feelin' for a change.
- Chris Neal