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Chris Webster

Drive – 1999 (Compass)

Reviewed by Rachel Leibrock

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CDs by Chris Webster

Versatile singer-songwriter Chris Webster moves out of the shadows of her wildly popular West Coast Cajun-influenced country dance band, Mumbo Gumbo, into her own, well-earned spotlight. Recorded in Nashville, the 12-track disc crisply captures Webster's commanding presence and poise. From the blues-soaked riffs of "I'm Driving" and the rockabilly-fused "Tumble Into Love" to balmier moments such as her cover of Van Morrison's "Ball and Chain" and the gospel-like "Angel Choir," Webster displays a nuanced range of musicianship and emotion that wears well with repeated listening.

In Mumbo Gumbo, it's always a party. With Chris Webster solo, it's still a party, but be warned - she'll cry if she wants to. With a winsome, evocative voice that conveys pain and longing as easily as it does joy and hope, Webster brings a fervent depth to each song.

Aided by such luminaries as pianist Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett Band), the legendary lap steel guitarist Al Perkins, the Memphis Horns and violinist Barbara Lamb, "Drive" dazzles with both intellect and emotion.