Prime Cuts: Too Far Gone, A New Pair of Shoes, Hot Doggin'
All her cylinders are out with the release of "Too Far Gone:" Produced by Alan Jackson's helmsman Keith Stegall together with Bill Chambers; Endorsed by the magisterial Sir Elton John; Featured backing vocals by superstar Kenny Chesney; and honored by an ace-list of songwriters including Paul Overstreet, Dean Dillon, Guy Clark and Bruce Robison, "Too Far Gone" pulls no stops as far as the glitz and glamour are concerned. This comes as no surprised as this is this Australian first major release of which Britt has had already spent two years honing. With a mellifluous set of pipes imbued with an inert verve which can be aggressive as well as tender when she so chooses. But what truly sets "Too Far Gone" apart is the presence of Keith Stegall and Bill Chambers' deft touches. These production maestros have kept the backings rustic awash with plenty of steel and fiddles without giving in to the perennial temptation to turn this disc into a noisy rock crossover. Kudos are also in order to Stegall and Chambers for exposing Britt to variety of country genres including a bluesy romp, a bluegrassy number, a rousing barnburner, barroom weepers, a Texas swing and some modern country, making this CD a joy to listen all the way through.
Giving Bob Willis a run for his money, Britt gives her no-good philandering paramour a spiteful showdown on the swinging "Hot Doggin'" accentuated by a supporting chorus courtesy of Kenny Chesney and John Ryles. Still within the warren of heartbreak is the Dean Dillon/Jim McBride country barroom weeper "A New Pair of Shoes," which finds a frustrated Britt unable to walk out of a decaying relationship. Though already tanked maladroitly as far as the Billboard chart is concerned, the fiddle-led single "The Upside of Being Down" tries to be optimistic at the throes of a breakup with the protagonist taking comfort that now without her partner, she does not have to worry about fishing gear, muddy boots, sharing her closet space, and so forth. Co-written by Britt and Paul Overstreet, the title track, a lazy waltz of regrets accompanied with some mournful fiddle incursions from Stuart Duncan, is sold on the strong on Britt's plaintive and yet beautifully nuanced vocals.
Britt's palette does include issues outside the gashes of the heart. The bluesy Delbert McClinton-like "Poor Man's Pride," the new single, is an erudite moral tale of choosing the heart over lucre. While on the rousing barnburner "Swinging Doors" (also recently recorded by newcomer Joey Daniels), our Aussie chanteuse is no longer a damsel bemusing about her love gone wrong. Rather, she is a take-charged woman refusing to stoop to her libidinous man. Despite being a strong debut the bluegrassy take of Steve Wariner's "Life's Highway" as well as "I'm Gone" and "I'm Nobody's Fool" are acceptable numbers without being tinctured with anything hypnotically enticing.
Despite these shortcomings, "Too Far Gone" is still a sturdy effort. And irregardless of all the conspicuous endorsements, the lodestar of this CD still resides in the well chosen songs as well as Britt's thoughtful and often heartfelt delivery. Already a star in her Aussie homeland, let's hope the rest of the world will embrace her before she's too far gone.