Not much has gone well for Mindy McCready since her first album, "Ten Thousand Angels ," went multi-platinum way back in 1996. After a few brushes with the law, a stretch in prison, a couple of suicide attempts, and a season on Celebrity Rehab (not to mention the looming release of an unwanted sex tape), it's fairly extraordinary that McCready is putting forth her first album in eight years. Even more remarkable: the fact that it's actually pretty good.
It feels like McCready has gathered all of the pain of the past few years and poured it into "I'm Still Here." The title track, co-written by McCready, is a statement, with the latter half of the chorus declaring: "I'm still standing, right where you left me/On a cold dark cloud with nowhere to fall but down/Like a single, naked, unrelenting tear/I'm still here." And when McCready sings The Dance, the song made famous by Garth Brooks, a few songs later, you can tell that she means it. By Her Side, a stripped down acoustic number, is quite lovely, and sultry The Way You Make Me Melt hits all the right notes.
There's certainly some filler, too, and the inclusion of remakes of her two biggest hits (Guys Do It All the Time and Ten Thousand Angels) adds little to the album and feels a bit desperate. But, after all she's been through, McCready can certainly be forgiven a couple indulgences.