What you see may not be what you get when it comes to Deana Carter's sophomore CD for Vanguard Records. Dressed in her white pseudo-lingerie in her cosmopolitan glamour, Carter's alluring sex-kitten image could rival the best of the Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. However, song wise, some of these covers are relics reaching back to the bygone era of Spears' grandmother. Yet, Carter does not merely dust off these sonic dinosaurs and recycles them note for note. Rather with her feathery and coquettish voice surrounded by a tight almost acoustic ensemble there is an intimate and surprising country feel to these re-makes. Surprising because unlike Carter's previous records which lean towards rock this is perhaps her most rustic effort. Further, for an added sentimental touch these songs were specifically chosen in honor of Carter's dad
Fred Carter, Jr. As a record label executive, musician and producer Fred Carter, Jr. was somehow involved in the original renditions of these selections.
Stripping off Roy Orbison's rockish overtones and geared at slower tempo, Carter transforms the Big O's "Crying" into a plaintive ballad starting off with just the guitar before some brushes of strings and drums. While the religious theme of the sonic travelogue of The Band's "The Weight" is rendered with a seasoned maturity importuning the lyrics demand. Add to this confection is a rousing popish version of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay." On the other hand, Paul Simon's "The Boxer" receives a slight bluegrassy feel only to be let down by Simon's somehow weary and at times out of tune vocals.
Besides Simon, Carter also has a line-up of superstars to duet with her. Dolly Parton adds her crystalline vocals to a revved up version of her hit "Love is Like a Butterfly." In terms of the most extreme makeover has to be Carter's take on John Anderson's "Swinging." With her sensuous purrs and the electronic-like ambiance, Carter (together with Anderson) almost delivers a ribald version of this former number 1 hit. Jessi Colter and Carter reprises Colter's career hit "I'm Not Lisa" in a way that's far too abreast to its original version. Unfortunately Willie Nelson who tags along at a beat too slow, sounds out of place with Carter's slightly more sped up version of Nelson's "On the Road Again."
After years since Carter first hit the top of the charts with "Strawberry Wine," she's one of the few artists who not only kept her figure but she still sings without any signs of aging. Still as sprightly and coy, Carter is a delight to listen to. Further, with a star-studded list of duet partners and well-chosen covers, "The Chain" ought to make her daddy proud.