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Released: 14th October 2002.

LeAnn Rimes - Twisted AngelLeAnn Rimes has, for several years, reigned as Queen over the land of Popular Country Music. It's not a very big nation, of course, primarily because most country music is pants. The only major threat to her position was Shania Twain, whose last album, "Come On Over", sold by the lorry load. So it perhaps comes as a bit of a surprise to hear that LeAnn has abdicated. >Abdicated? You heard correctly. This latest offering from Ms Rimes is more pop/rock than country. And, frankly, I'm not too disappointed to learn that.

The album opens with the debut single from the disc, "Life Goes On". It's a strong showing from LeAnn, the track being an upbeat and instantly catchy number, though at times perhaps failing to showcase her powerful vocals fully. You may be pleased to hear that the rest of the album has a similar feel to it; musically, this is not far from being the best we've heard LeAnn to date.

The best, and perhaps most unique, qualities this recording appears to possess are that it is instantly likeable and extremely difficult to tire of. LeAnn's voice, undoubtedly her most valuable asset as an artist, must surely rate among the best in the music business today, and makes extremely pleasant listening. From the poppy "Trouble With Goodbye" to the downbeat "Damn", LeAnn's vocals are perfect throughout.

There are many potential singles here, and a personal favourite has to be the mysterious, poppy "Tic Toc", a song benefiting greatly from fantastic production which, at times, verges on R&B. Another favourite is slow and relaxing "Review My Kisses", a track which benefits more than most from Rimes' stunning vocals, while other potential singles are found in the forms of "Wound Up", "The Safest Place" and the soundtrack-like ballad "You Made Me Find Myself".

Other standout numbers include the rockier "No Way Out" and the fantastic title track, "Twisted Angel", which comes complete with an appropriately peculiar introduction and some stunning Christina Aguilera-like vocals.

It's genuinely hard to pick fault with this collection of tracks. My only criticism is that the album doesn't appear to steal your attention, but is happy to play along in the background. Even this, though, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

So is the album worth it? Of course! And will Ms Rimes be entertaining us for some time yet? Most probably. In fact, the only question left to answer is how the land of Popular Country Music will manage without her. And, quite frankly, who cares?

* * * * (DS)

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