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LeeAnne Savage: To the N9nes (Back It Up)

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Longtime Tucson music fans may remember Savage for her funky-rock party band during the 1990s. But this new nine-song album shows off her country-pop songwriting chops. Produced by Savage, it was recorded in Nashville with a core band of veterans.

Several tracks here sound as if they are primed to be snapped up by some of today's top talent, such as the sassy, upbeat leadoff track "I Like to Play With Boys," in which riffing guitars trade leads with stinging pedal steel; and the heartland-based country-rock of "Say I Do," which sounds ready-made for, say, Carrie Underwood.

With its expansive scope of family memories and Americana rock, "I'm Always With You" is a charming love letter from a young woman to her father—and the organ and banks of guitars work together to build emotional impact. The ballad "The Way You Got to Me" is a lush exploration of heady romance, while "Obsession" is a driving rave-up with subtle pop hooks.

"Midwest Small Town" is another cut with the potential to become a crossover hit, in large part because of the catchy Mellencamp-style melody, an irresistible chorus and lyrics that mention Main Street, a Chevelle, cornfields, NASCAR, cow-tipping and rhubarb pie. She gets to show off her voice, occasionally indulging in a soulful wail.

Savage isn't afraid to refer to herself, or to other characters, as girls, in a genial, down-home way. On "Good All American Girl," she turns the title cliché on its head, alluding to a little troublemaking, too.

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