Martina

This one's for the girls, sings Martina in the first hit from her sixth album, and she ain't kidding. Martina is all about being female in every way - a lover, a bride, a mother, a daughter, a friend.

That theme gives these 12 tracks (13 if you buy it at Wal-Mart) more focus than you'll hear on most mainstream albums. But beyond the girl-power concept, Martina is really about what this particular woman can do, as the star of the show delivers one knockout performance after another in a dizzying variety of styles.

To be convinced, just skip to the middle of the album for one of the most satisfying one-two-three punches of the year. Check out the searing "How Far," an instant Martina classic in the power-lunged mold of "Whatever You Say." Then comes the irresistible bluegrass gospel of "Reluctant Daughter," followed quickly by "Wearing White"'s thrumming trad-country, showcasing Martina's restraint and storytelling prowess.

But by all means, don't stop there - Martina is full of goodies, including an astoundingly fresh version of the well-worn "Over the Rainbow." A few tracks are standard-issue and occasionally soppy, but all are elevated when sung by one of country's great voices. That's what one woman can do.

SOUND ADVICE: This one's for you

Review by Chris Neal

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