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'Spitfire' LeAnn Rimes Lets Loose


 (Curb Records)

It’s her turn.

On “Spitfire,” LeAnn Rimes lays bare the feelings behind the stormy relationships, complicated situations, regrets, and rewards and finding she’s moved on from being both the teen prodigy and woman she was in her twenties. Which is to say, “Spitfire” covers a lot of ground emotionally while also encompassing a range of styles musically.

And whether you’ve been following the tabloid ruckus over her affair and marriage to actor Eddie Cibrian or not, the impact of those experiences can’t help but inform the album.

Rimes expresses them in 13 strong and varied tracks, many co-written with her long-standing collaborator Darrell Brown, but now also joined by heavy-hitters like David Baerwald, Dan Wilson and Sarah Buxton. And whether singing, cooing, snarling or belting out the lyrics, Rimes is in great voice throughout and in total sync with her band — no doubt due in large part to finally recording her vocals in the same room with them rather than being isolated in a sound booth.

The title track kicks off the album in high gear. A fast rocker with plenty of attitude, Rimes says the word “spitfire” came to her in a dream and the rest of the lyrics followed from there. But no sooner does its intensity fade when “What Have I Done” does a 180: it’s a soulful, tender, aching ballad with backing vocals from Alison Krauss and a chorus you’ll be singing along with before the song is over.

When it is over, get ready for another change-up. Rimes’ raucous version of Buddy and Julie Miller’s “Gasoline And Matches” is totally killer, featuring a duet with Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas and a stinging solo from none other than Jeff Beck. But once the guitars finish ringing out — you guessed it — another dramatic shift comes in. “Borrowed,” with its acoustic finger picking and Rimes’ sweet vocal, belie the depth of her heart-felt lyrics.  

Then it’s time for another shift. The honky-tonk stomp of “You Ain’t Right” adds just the right amount of sass to the mix, followed by the slinking bass line that introduces “I Do Now” — which quickly transforms into a catchy rocker.

If the fast-slow-fast-slow pacing isn’t the smoothest way to sequence an album, “Spitfire” more than makes up for the bumpy ride by giving Rimes free reign to tell her version of events in the most irresistible way possible.