Mary Sarah, ‘Bridges’ (Cleopatra)
It seems almost incomprehensible that an 18-year-old singer could earn the respect of some of country music’s biggest living legends, but Mary Sarah makes it seem like she’s known them for years on her debut album, “Bridges.”
Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and a host of others lend their voices to some of their signature songs, but Mary Sarah’s big accomplishment in her 12-track debut is that she never lets her star-studded guests outshine her.
Blessed with a big voice and the brassy confidence to use it, she has drawn easy comparisons to Carrie Underwood thanks to her blond locks and stunning range. But Mary Sarah isn’t a power balladeer, and her fresh take on some aging classics is a heartening sign for an industry currently mired in cynical, pseudo-dance pop.
Whether it’s on the winding “Jolene” with Parton or “All I Wanna Do Is Sing My Song,” the sweet closing number with ailing Freddy Powers, Mary Sarah’s is the voice you’ll remember when it’s over. In that way, “Bridges” isn’t really a connection to the past but a happy sign of things to come.
Owen R. Smith, Special to The Seattle Times
Other new releases
Rise Against, “The Black Market “ (10 Spot)
John Hiatt, “Terms of My Surrender” (New West)
Morrissey, “World Peace is None of Your Business” (Harvest)