Black Music Matters Festival

Terri Clark

Roots and Wings – 2011 (Back Track)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Terri Clark

Terri Clark is the perfect example of country music perseverance. Despite being nearly six years removed from her last major label release and having not produced a single reaching higher than 30 on the U.S. country chart since 2007, Clark just put out what is arguably her finest and most complete artistic statement with "Roots and Wings." The album, her second release on her own imprint, has everything from soaring rockers to raw and emotional ballads, along with a dash or two of Clark's traditional country roots.

Already a proven talent as a songwriter, Clark ups the ante on this 10-song set by collaborating with other writers including Sugarland founding member Kristen Hall. The four songs Clark and Hall co-penned stand out from first listen, especially the beautifully somber Flowers in the Snow and the ultra-catchy and autobiographical Northern Girl, a song which gives a "wink, wink" nod to Clark's Canadian musical roots via a clever mention of Ian Tyson's classic tune Four Strong Winds.

Optimism is a theme shared by several of the songs. The One, quite possibly the most radio-friendly song on the set, focuses on not just settling for love out of convenience, but rather waiting for the exact right person, while The Good Was Great reveals an ex-lover willing to forget all the bad in order to remember the relationship's high points.

The biggest lyrical and emotional highlight is the lovingly crafted Smile, a tender tribute to Clark's mother Lydia who lost her battle with cancer in 2010. Alison Krauss' vocal contributions make an already good song even better.