Inside Out (MCA Nashville)

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It's been a long road but we got here, sings Trisha Yearwood as her ninth album opens. It wasn't easy, but it was true.

The long, difficult road Trisha has traveled in the last several years is well-documented - the pain of her real-life divorce was reflected in the somber tone of last year's Real Live Woman. But as that opening verse suggests, Inside Out is about moving forward, acknowledging love's pain and complexity - and utterly, even defiantly, believing in it.

And so she revels in having no regrets - instead of wallowing in loss - on the hit

"I Would've Loved You Anyway," pledges to be swept away by romance again in the gospel-tinged "Second Chance," and lets loose a wail of determination in her well-chosen cover of Rebecca Lynn Howard's "I Don't Paint Myself Into Corners." Even on weepers like "Melancholy Blue," her sense of self glows through the tears.

The sound of Inside Out is a U-turn from Real Live Woman's earthier tones. Producer Mark Wright crafts a busy, sometimes grand atmosphere, laying a string section on eight of the 12 tracks, throwing in the occasional drum loop or distorted vocal, and building a soaring, three-minute epic out of "Second Chance."

Wright can add all the decoration he likes - Trisha's delivery will cut through and soar above anything he can dream up. Inside Out proves for any nonbelievers remaining that Trisha Yearwood is in the first rank of singers in any genre - and as strong and resilient as her voice.

- Chris Neal

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