When You Lie Next To Me (BNA Records)

She's already being saddled with comparisons to Celine Dion, but while there may be passing similarities to the Canadian pop diva, Kellie Coffey has a voice all her own.

Fortunately, the similarities have less to do with Celine's overblown dramatics than with Kellie's emotional delivery and effortless leaps into the pure upper registers of her voice. Clearly this Oklahoma-born, L.A.-honed performer comes armed with a mighty instrument, making her a contender for the Trisha/Martina pantheon of vocal heroines.

Kellie also had a hand in writing seven of When You Lie Next To Me's 11 songs, including the soaring, "Breathe"-like title track. The songs are well-crafted and the production is nicely restrained, supporting the singer with punchy, organic sounds. Even when things do get overly majestic, Kellie's voice proves more than a match, cutting through gauzy string sections and screaming electric guitars like a blade.

This impressive debut lacks the kind of undeniable, awards-worthy hit that could make her a superstar, but make no mistake about it: Kellie Coffey is the kind of bold, straight-from-the-heart vocalist that's been thrilling audiences since the dawn of time. So move over Sara, Cyndi, Jamie and Carolyn Dawn - there's a new girl in town, and she's very good.


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