Small Town Girl
by Kellie Pickler, pop/country (2006)

Now this is a surprise indeed. I loathed Kellie Pickler when she was on the fifth season of American Idol due to her off-key caterwauling and her idiotic and fake smalltown dumb girl act that she and the show sold to the audience with the subtlety of a jackhammer into the head.

But oh my, Small Town Girl is filled with songs that are so infectious and catchy that I just cannot resist. Ms Picker's watery-weak vocals are lovingly retouched and looped so that she is in tune in this CD, so she's listenable here. But there is no fighting the good mojo in songs like Girls Like Me, the title track, and Red High Heels. Red High Heels is especially fabulous - it's the perfect "Sweet dreams, my darling ex-boyfriend!" kiss-off song that you can singalong with your girlfriends on a night out until you fall face-down into the beer mug and still sound good in the process. "You can watch me walk if you want to!" Ms Pickler sings with convincing defiant bravado as she straps on her best fuck-me red stilettos and gets ready to parade in town for a good time. As the ex-boyfriend gets to watch her have fun, she cooes naughtily, "Nobody holds a candle to me in my red high heels/I bet you want me back now, don't you?/Don't you?...I'm about to show you what missing me feels!" Well done, Ms Pickler, you have me nicely played, you shameless hussy. Look at me, I'm singing along. I'll never live this one down.

There are plenty of catchy songs, but oh yes, there are ballads too. My Angel is so darned heartfelt and nicely sung that I feel like writing an apology to Kellie Pickler for every mean thing I've said about her on American Idol. I Wonder is also a sweet song with the sweetness never bleeding over into saccharine unpleasantness.

Whoever assembled these songs for Kellie Pickler should be given a medal. The songs are even better than those on Some Hearts, Carrie Underwood's debut CD, because these songs, while having pop leanings, also have a potent traditional country edge to them. While Ms Underwood sings sweet and fluffy songs on Some Hearts that are comparable to the anemic sweetness of Faith Hill and Shania Twain, the songs on Kellie Pickler's debut have teeth, sass, and verve comparable to the best stuff of Reba McEntire. These are songs that pack a punch and there is no punch that knocks out as sweetly as Red High Heels. But seriously, every remaining track also rocks out in a fine old country and pop way.

The Kellie Pickler that sounds so good on this CD may be one that is artificially generated in the studio since I've seen her perform live on TV and she sounds terrible. Maybe she's improved, and I hope she has. I'm more than happy to accept this CD as her apology for subjecting me to some of the worst singing on American Idol ever. The only reason I cannot give this CD a keeper score is because of the proliferation of "Aw shucks, I'm really a country bumpkin" fake shtick in the lyrics of the songs. Who is she trying to kid with the whole "Aw, ah'm a simple girl from Abermarle!" act?

Rating: 88

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