Twisted Angel, by LeAnn Rimes
During the early 2000s, country singer LeAnn Rimes made an album that sought to appeal to pop audiences that showed a somewhat messier side of her personality and the life that she was living. The album was not quite as successful as she hoped, and she later went back to making country, but that doesn’t make this album any less interesting as a failed attempt at a mainstream pop career that sought to pivot LeAnn Rimes into the sort of pop princesses that were popular at the time like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, and the like. If the album was only marginally successful from the point of view of sales, how does this album fare artistically? Is it a good album that other people simply slept on or what?
The album begins with “Life Goes On,” a standout pop track that deals with the passage of time and the inability to go back and undo one’s previous mistakes, a rather promising beginning. “Wound Up” is a bit more of a story song about someone who appears to be perfect on the outside but has some deep issues when one looks deeper. “The Safest Place” reflects on the peace of mind and feeling of safety that comes from a loved one and was a minor hit single from the album. “The Trouble With Goodbye” sounds like something that could have come from Christina Aguilera’s first album, and if that’s not a bad thing to you it might be enjoyable. “Damn” reflects frustration with one’s life and the way that one can be taken advantage of by someone one is attracted to. “Suddenly” reflects the suddenness of finding oneself alone when one was in a relationship. “Tic Toc” is another dance-pop infused song which invites the singer’s partner to enjoy lovemaking with her. “Sign Of Life” reflects on the things that give one encouragement in the face of pain and difficulty. “Review My Kisses” is an oddly worded expression of a desire to be with a departed partner who has left her all alone. “No Way Out” expresses unhappiness with being unable to escape one’s feelings for someone. “Love Is An Army” is an empowerment anthem about the power of love. “You Made Me Find Myself” is a reflection of gratitude to a past partner for making her find herself when she was trying to find him. The album then ends with a story song that expresses the brokenness that LeAnn Rimes felt as a young woman, more like a country rock song than anything else here.
This is without a doubt a strange album. It is by no means a bad album–it is thematically coherent as LeAnn Rimes deals with the troubles of love from the point of view of a woman who wants love and finds relationships a struggle, and finds herself corrupted by her experiences as a star and as a sexually active young woman. What is strange about the album, though, is the way that the styles on this album seem to clash. LeAnn Rimes’ voice does not sound very good with most of this very dated early 2000’s production, and her strengths as an emotive singer are not brought out the way that they could be. What is perhaps most tragic about this album is that the material by and large would work very well with different production as a country album–there is a lot of heartbreak and longing to be found here, and the title track almost sounds like swamp rock, so had LeAnn Rimes and her team wanted to make a great country album the material is here. As it is, it is a very good pop record, largely based on LeAnn Rimes’ own honesty and vulnerability as an artist, but it could have been a classic.