11 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Kellie Pickler was a breakout star of American Idol's fifth season, and no less an authority than Simon Cowell said on the show that he preferred her to the previous season’s winner, Carrie Underwood. Where Underwood is a marquee diva in the mold of Faith Hill, Pickler is a scrappy country girl in the tradition of Bobbie Gentry, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette. Produced by Blake Chancey—who oversaw The Dixie Chicks’ breakout albums—Pickler’s 2006 debut, Small Town Girl, applies a stinging self-possession, even on sugary pop material like “My Angel” and “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You.” Her limitless swagger and sincerity is the reason she can handle surging pop tunes like “Small Town Girl” and “Got to Keep Moving” as easily as rollicking country fare like “One of the Guys” and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind.” Though she happily plays the role of underdog, Pickler packs enough gusto to fill out Faith Hill–style ballads like “I Wonder.” Still, it's “Red High Heels”—with its million-dollar hook and feisty sentiment—that personifies Pickler’s spirit.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Kellie Pickler was a breakout star of American Idol's fifth season, and no less an authority than Simon Cowell said on the show that he preferred her to the previous season’s winner, Carrie Underwood. Where Underwood is a marquee diva in the mold of Faith Hill, Pickler is a scrappy country girl in the tradition of Bobbie Gentry, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette. Produced by Blake Chancey—who oversaw The Dixie Chicks’ breakout albums—Pickler’s 2006 debut, Small Town Girl, applies a stinging self-possession, even on sugary pop material like “My Angel” and “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You.” Her limitless swagger and sincerity is the reason she can handle surging pop tunes like “Small Town Girl” and “Got to Keep Moving” as easily as rollicking country fare like “One of the Guys” and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind.” Though she happily plays the role of underdog, Pickler packs enough gusto to fill out Faith Hill–style ballads like “I Wonder.” Still, it's “Red High Heels”—with its million-dollar hook and feisty sentiment—that personifies Pickler’s spirit.

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