Jasper County

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Trisha Yearwood? Isn't she engaged to some famous dude?

Yes, Trisha was betrothed to Garth Brooks a few months ago. But Jasper County will disappoint anyone who goes digging for morsels about life at home with the G-man. That's at least in part because Trisha's ninth album is the result of a long, deliberative recording process that has seen four years slip by since 2001's slicked-up Inside Out.

What's come out the other side of that process is anything but overworked. Instead, Jasper County has an air of renewal, of clutter having been cleared away and essential verities renewed. Like many female stars in Gretchen Wilson's wake, Trisha has veered back toward country after flirting with pop; unlike some, in her case it feels like a natural progression—a realization that her sublime voice lays best in a bed of pop-tinged country rather than the reverse.

Jasper County opens dramatically with Anthony Smith's insistent "Who Invented the Wheel," and shifts swiftly from highlight to highlight: the rollicking "Pistol," yearning "Trying to Love You," bluesy "River of You," honky-tonkin' "It's Alright" and the gently soaring Top 20 hit "Georgia Rain," featuring harmony vocals from you-know-who. Nice of him to pitch in, but let's hope her future husband's retirement doesn't give Trisha any ideas about quitting anytime soon—Jasper County testifies that her artistry demands even more attention than her love life.

-Chris Neal

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