AOM Logo January 2000

Tara Lyn Hart, Tara Lyn Hart

Epic (Sony Music)
Playing Time: 50:27

D. Malcolm Fairbrother

I have a theory: somewhere in Canada there exists a patriotic scientist who has genetically enhanced a bevy of young women thereby creating a covey of superior crooners. His purpose? Nothing less than total world domination of the international music scene. How else can one explain the predominance of these young Canadian women? The list is impressive: Celine (Diva) Dion, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Shania Twain, Amanda Marshall, Melanie Doane, Jann Arden - all critically acclaimed, stylistically diverse, and commercially viable. Add to this list two relative newcomers from the Manitoba hinterlands, Tara Lyn Hart and Chantal Kreviazuk [her "Colour Moving and Still" is reviewed elsewhere in this issue - ak]

Tara Lyn Hart grew up on a farm just outside of the town of Roblyn, Manitoba. Not unexpectedly, her debut album, although it is categorized as an adult contemporary opus, is best described as "New Country". Her voice is infused with shades of the Canadian variation of that characteristic Nashville twang, even on the more balladic numbers that are included on Tara Lyn Hart. She must have been a crowd-pleaser as she honed her craft at the local rodeos and country fairs. The powers-that-be have demonstrated their adamant confidence in her capabilities by surrounding her with an array of talented musicians, and by placing her in the competent hands of accomplished producers such as Walter Afanasief, Peter Asher, and Josh Leo. This array of artistic acumen is only slightly undermined by inconsistency of material, a weakness that is not uncommon on debut collections.

Hart opens with Stuff That Matters, the first single from the CD, one that has achieved moderate chart success with its moderately heavy play list rotation on soft-country radio stations. It is an up tempo extolment of the simple things in life; a delectable piano intro (Ms. Hart's instrument of self-accompaniment) is quickly augmented by an insinuation of fiddle threads - then the entire band kicks into gear and the song builds to an effective pace that renders it highly listenable. Would that this level of interest could be sustained throughout the entire work, but that expectation would be difficult to execute. Although other similarly paced selections bravely strive to mine a comparable vein, they come away with an abundance of common gravel and only a pittance of gold. Save Me canters along pleasantly enough, but ultimately cannot escape its fate of being commonplace filler despite its earnest delivery. You Can Get There From Here is pure country claptrap, replete with pick-up trucks and a repetitively platitudinous chorus that lacks only a dog to complement its banality. Love Ought To Work That Way sinks under the weight of its triteness. Only Baby What About You creates and sustains a moderate interest generated by a sweetly heartfelt vocal and competent musicianship that sustains this listener's interest beyond a couple of encounters.

Ms. Hart fares somewhat similarly on her slower material. The standout ballad by far is the evocatively sincere One Heart; the singer pays homage to a younger sister, grown, married and long since moved away, yet nonetheless loved and missed. As much promise as this number proffers, the overall harvest of a series of kindred compositions is somewhat undermined by blandness. Hearts and Arrows reminds this reviewer that he must petition for the passing of legislation to ensure that the writer of any song comparing Time to a river be taken to the nearest one and unceremoniously drowned in it! The major impact of most of these stylistically generic tearjerkers is that impact is an exaggeration, unless a yawn and a shrug suggest any sense of reverberation.

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