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This Woman's Heart (Asylum)

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Chalee has obviously spent a lot of time listening to the music of Tammy Wynette and other past queens of country music. But this former prison guard also infuses her sound with a rockin' edge and the confessional lyrics of numerous introspective pop poets. It's an attractive blend that makes the follow-up to her 1999 self-titled debut a treat.

Chalee makes no bones about a hardscrabble past, which includes three ex-husbands and a trio of kids, as she draws on experience for the seven out of a dozen songs she co-wrote. The best include the dramatic ballad "I'm Healing," in which she optimistically looks to the future while remaining wary of a painful past. In another song, "Yes I Was," she bravely stands up and looks back at her checkered history. She watches one more lover hit the road as a wounded but relieved child comforts her in "We Don't Have To Pray."

While Chalee has no qualms about delving into her colorful past, she's more than capable of having a good time, too. Take the let's-fight-then-make-up-and-make-out "Makin' Up With You," for instance, or the high-stepping friskiness of the unapologetic "I Ain't."

Chalee should find a sympathetic following taken with the honesty of her songs and the energy of her music. It's a good combination that deserves to be heard.

-- Mark Marymont

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