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Poised For Break Throughs

Mon., March 11, 1996

In the past few years, female artists have proven successful at walking the tightrope of hit-making while maintaining some sense of identity. Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Wynonna Judd are all examples of unmistakable artists who broke through.

So this year’s crop of female country star wannabes is worth a good close look. The one or two who manage to get hits while keeping their integrity have a chance to win some career longevity. The others will have to scramble in 1997.

Chely Wright

“Right in the Middle of It” (Polydor)

Recognized as a talent to watch by the Academy of Country Music last year, Wright has all the tools: a great voice, looks and charisma. She’s also determined, so determined that it’s probably best she didn’t choose a career in which she could hurt someone.

Linda Davis

“Some Things Are Meant to Be” (Arista)

Davis is a protege of Reba McEntire, whose company manages her. Big Mac sings a duet with Davis on “If I Could Live Your Life,” and on selections like “Walk Away,” “Love Story in the Making,” “Cast Iron Heart” and “She Doesn’t Ask,” Davis comes dangerously close to coming off as a McEntire clone.

Rhonda Vincent

“Trouble Free” (Giant)

A ringer from the bluegrass scene, Vincent makes it look easy. Even cameos from Alison Krauss, Randy Travis and Dolly Parton fail to take the focus away from her easygoing charm.

Bobbie Cryner

“Girl of Your Dreams” (MCA)

Cryner has a catch in her throaty alto that’ll break your heart, and she’s one good songwriter to boot.

The picture she paints of a woman putting on a happy front in “Vision of Loneliness” will break your heart.

Stephanie Bentley

“Hopechest” (Epic)

The sweet-voiced Bentley has been carefully groomed for stardom for some time now by the brain trust at Epic. Based on “Hopechest,” their judgment is right on.

Not only does she have a hand in writing two of the better songs here, but she has the good sense to cover Kevin Welch, John Hiatt and Angela Kaset.

Lisa Brokop

“Lisa Brokop” (Capitol)

On cuts two and three of her second album for Capitol, the wily Canadian jumps from girlish first love on “Before He Kissed Me” to “She Can’t Save Him,” a dead serious look at what alcoholism can do to a relationship. She pulls off both.

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