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Review: Kristin Chenoweth not country enough

Kristin Chenoweth, "Some Lessons Learned" (CBS Masterworks)
/ Source: The Associated Press

Kristin Chenoweth, "Some Lessons Learned" (CBS Masterworks)

A successful Broadway and TV actress, Kristin Chenoweth brings a country music background to her first Nashville-recorded album, "Some Lessons Learned."

An Oklahoma native, she once dreamed of becoming country singer. She performed in "Opryland USA" stage productions as a teen before starring in "Glee" and Broadway hits "Wicked," "Promises, Promises" and "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."

On "Some Lessons Learned," her vocal and musical training shows on the clear diction she brings to power ballads and big-beat country pop. But country music embraces personality as well as talent, and Chenoweth doesn't establish any identity of her own. She also leans too hard on message songs — "I Was Here," "Fathers And Daughters," "Borrowed Angels" — that come across as formulaic, rather than emotionally stirring.

Veteran rock producer Bob Ezrin uses Nashville musicians, but his arrangements don't blend country and rock elements with the skill of today's successful country producers.

Chenoweth has her moments, as in the conversational "God And Me." But unlike fellow Broadway belter Laura Bell Bundy, who also has entered the country music sweepstakes, Chenoweth doesn't quite make the transition with the same aplomb she's shown in tackling other challenges.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Lessons Learned," one of five Diane Warren songs included on the album, proves Chenoweth can succeed when given a dramatic lyric that fuses her vocal talent and her acting experience in putting across a subtle yet powerful story.