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*** TRISHA YEARWOOD, "Where Your Road Leads," MCA Nashville

July 12, 1998|Randy Lewis

It was only seven years ago that Yearwood came along and sang with giddy girlish abandon that "She's in Love With the Boy." On her sixth album, her transition from girl to woman seems complete.

Take the Annie Roboff-Arnie Roman heartbreaker "Heart Like a Sad Song." Yearwood gets inside the sentiment of a woman who's a sucker for wounded lovers, including the husband who "left her the house with the picket fence / And walked away with her innocence."

Loss--of trust, of innocence, of love--plays a big role on a ballad-heavy outing that is the Georgia-born singer's most consistently Linda Ronstadt-like album, but Ronstadt from her '70s country-rock prime. She also demonstrates herself at home in the nether world of Margo Timmins/Sinead O'Connor dreamscapes in a couple of songs that continue to extend her reach.

Mostly, Yearwood sounds a lifetime of experience removed from the sweet young thing she was a few years back. Yes, life as an adult can be a bitch, but her resolve in grappling with complex situations and emotions implies it's better than remaining a self-pitying teenager in love.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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