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Danni Leigh

29 Nights – 1998 (Decca)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Danni Leigh

It is ironic that Dolly Parton joined Decca's roster to record "Why don't more women sing honky tonk songs?" Decca is the one major label where women are doing just that, and none more so than Danni Leigh. The 28-year-old Virginia native's debut is such unrelentingly hard-core country music that, like a vintage Buck Owens album, it will be intolerable to fringe country fans.

Just looking at the song titles should set some traditionalists to drooling, with words like "Teardrops" and "Heartaches" and "Lonesome" and "Mess" in practically every title. The songs are all good too, whether they're originals co-written by Leigh, or oldies from Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard or Harlan Howard.

Leigh has a nice twangy voice, although at times she still seems a little tentative with it. Not as powerful a singer as Heather Myles, the honky tonk darling of the indy scene, Leigh has an album that is more consistent in its allegiance to the traditional (mostly uptempo) honky tonk sound. Driven by guitar and fiddle, this is an album that's hard to sit still to. Anyone complaining that there isn't enough real country music around had better buy this disc or forever hold their peace.