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