It might be hard to believe, but it’s been nearly 20 years since LeAnn Rimes burst onto the country music scene with “Blue” in 1996, her debut album that surged to the top of the country charts.
Seventeen years later, Rimes is 30 and has never quite matched the success of her wildly popular debut. However, she’s also avoided doing overly commercial work, which has kept her from the mega success of mainstream country tartlets such as Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift, despite hits such as “How Do I Live.”
Fans of Rimes will get a chance to see her in action Friday night at the Woodland Park Zoo. She’s touring in support of her new album “Spitfire” and will finish up the West Coast leg of her tour with dates in Portland and British Columbia before heading east in August.
It’s a chance to see a child star — Rimes was just 14 when “Blue” was released — all grown up and dealing with some very adult things such as her recent divorce through her music. This is not the beer, trucks and redneck pride side of the genre, but that shouldn’t keep fans of Music Row sparkle from checking out a veteran like Rimes. Her band is tight and there’s no doubt they’ll put on a professional show.
“Spitfire” is a solid collection of tunes but the production leans toward the adult contemporary set more than mainstream country radio. Regardless of the details, Rimes’ powerful, engaging voice is well on display on songs like “Where I Stood” and the breakup tune “What Have I Done?”
It’s Rimes’ third straight country album after experimenting with R&B and rock on “Twisted Angel” and “Whatever We Wanna,” and the fact she’s in her wheelhouse is evident.
Rimes has never been the kind of artist who needs autotune to correct her nearly flawless voice. Even if she sticks with her new songs, there’s enough variety and meat on “Spitfire” to make her stop at Woodland Park satisfying, if a bit spendy at $32.50.
5 p.m. Friday at Woodland Park Zoo, 750 N. 50th St., Seattle; $32.50 (zoo.org/zootunes)