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Wynonna on Her Own II: A Few Cuts Above

RECORD RACK

May 09, 1993|ROBERT HILBURN

WYNONNA JUDD

"Tell Me Why"

Curb/MCA

* * *

In her strongest moments with mama Naomi in the Judds, young Wynonna showed the vocal passion and command to become the most captivating female singer of her generation--pop or country. But how long are we going to have to wait for her to claim the crown?

One essential element in becoming a great singer is great material, and Judd showed a surprising timidity in selecting songs for last year's solo debut. Things start slowly again on the follow-up: The album's first three songs are familiar tales of romantic confusion and personal resolve, and Judd's interpretations are merely coolly professional.

Suddenly, however, she stretches out boldly with a pair of exceptional Jesse Winchester tunes, including "Just Like New," an offbeat look at the lingering Elvis Presley legend. When she follows with Kimmie Rhodes' nostalgia-tinged "I Just Drove By" and Naomi's fiery "That Was Yesterday," the results are chilling.

"I Just Drove By" is a can't-miss No. 1 country single, but it's "Yesterday"--a powerful song about walking away from an abusive relationship--that best showcases the younger Judd's gifts. In a masterful performance that incorporates elements of country, blues and jazz, she offers a show-stopping glimpse of what appears to be an almost unlimited potential.

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