Something Worth Leaving Behind (MCA Nashville)

Two years ago, Lee Ann Womack's career skyrocketed with her No. 1 smash "I Hope You Dance," a stirring anthem that spoke truthfully and open-heartedly to our most closely held dreams. The odds of finding another song so stirring were slim.

But that's precisely what Lee Ann has done. The title cut from her fourth album, Something Worth Leaving Behind, is a stunner, a haunting ballad that doesn't hit exactly the same nerve as "I Hope You Dance," but one nearby, and just as potent. It's darker and more eccentric than its predecessor, and works its way into your heart a little more subtly.

It's also a good introduction to the other 11 tracks on Something (not counting an inferior, poppier version of the title song), most of which explore the more shadowy territories of the heart. It's a quieter, less traditional side of Lee Ann than fans have come to expect.

The best example of this new direction may be the elegantly bruised, '70s-pop-styled "When You Gonna Run To Me." Any listeners freaked out to hear Lee Ann in such a grand setting should head for the disc's triumphant one-two punch: a pair of grittily powerful Julie Miller-penned numbers, "Orphan Train" and "I Need You."

I may not go down in history, sings Lee Ann on "Something Worth Leaving Behind," I just want someone to remember me. With her new album, she offers one more reason why someone certainly will.

-- Chris Neal

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