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Carolyn Dawn Johnson - Dress Rehearsal


Review: Jack Foley

IT WOULD be simple merely to dismiss Carolyn Dawn Johnson as the blonde version of Shania Twain, yet that would be lazy so let's consider her second album a little bit further.

Dress Rehearsal is the follow-up to the multi-award winning Room With A View, which marked Carolyn as a talented singer-songwriter in her own right.

The success of that album helped her to win eight CCMAs, including 2001 and 2002 Female Artist of the Year, Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) in 2002 and 2003's Favourite New Artist at the American Music Awards.

Dress Rehearsal is, therefore, something of an eagerly-anticipated entity for her fans, most of whom line up in the country music category.

It is an album that attempts to eschew the values of its title track and forthcoming single, which underscores the tough truth that a dress rehearsal is exactly what life isn't - that what we have instead is a perpetually brand-new moment that you have a single chance to make memorable.

Yet it struggles to maintain an identity that is completely its own falling prey to frequent comparisons with the country style of Shania Twain.

Of the decent tracks, Dress Rehearsal sets things going in suitably positive fashion, while Carolyn is clearly having fun with He's Mine, which features some nice guitar work.

But the album frequently comes a cropper with ballads such as We Talked which, though well-meaning and sang in heartfelt fashion, are simply too bland for their own good and way too sentimental.

You Are is another tedious effort, weighing in at a mighty five minutes and 10 seconds, while the deep country roots of God Doesn't Make Mistakes are simply too cloying for words ('I'm happy with what God gave me/I'm ok with the way God made me/It's not always easy for me to believe in myself').

Carolyn is far better when keeping things lively and letting the guitars run free, as in My Little Secret and Just Another Girl.

But that's not a recommendation to rush out and buy it - merely a respite from some of the stifling sincerity.

Track listing:
1. Dress Rehearsal
2. He's Mine
3. Complicated
4. I Don't Want You To Go
5. We Talked
6. My Little Secret
7. You Are
8. Just Another Girl
9. Squeezin' The Love Outta You
10. Head Over High Heels
11. God Doesn't Make Mistakes
12. Not Enough To Stay
13. Die Of A Broken Heart
14. Room With a View

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