I Need You by LeAnn Rimes

Last year, between lawsuits, LeAnn Rimes announced that she was working on a pop-leaning new album, one that would mark the beginning of a new era in her career.

This is not that album.

No, I Need You is more of a clearing house, with four soundtrack songs from the last two years and six previously unreleased tunes of uncertain vintage.

That said, how you feel about I Need You will largely depend on whether you see LeAnn’s shift toward pop as a positive development. Most of the songs have only a tenuous connection to country. Last summer’s pop hit “Can’t Fight The Moonlight,” in particular, wouldn't be out of place on a Britney Spears album.

But if genre worries don’t bother you too much, there’s much to enjoy on I Need You. Taken out of its former religious context, the title track works fine as a simple, yearning love song—in fact, every song here is about love lost, found or persisting.

“Can’t Fight The Moonlight,” one of three tracks penned by award-winning songwriter Diane Warren, is still a grabber, and “One Of These Days” is a disarmingly dramatic breakup number.

While the songs are all solid, the star—as always—is LeAnn herself. Throughout the album, she brings out all the supple curves and corners of her marvelous voice with both power and restraint.

The now 18-year-old LeAnn isn't a child prodigy anymore, and I Need You is an encouraging sign that the little girl who sang “Blue” is ready to stand on her own.

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