Just The Same, by Terri Clark
It is perhaps unsurprising that given the fact that I have listened to few albums by country artists that I know relatively well, that I approached this rankdown of Terri Clark’s “Just The Same” album being largely unfamiliar with her work. Though Clark has had a notable and long-lasting career as a country artist with a strong base in her native Canada and also considerable success in the United States (especially in the second half of the 1990s), she is less familiar as an album artist. This can be demonstrated by the Spotify stats for this album, which show that aside from the first two songs on the album which have more than a million plays, and the third song having 100,000 plays, the rest of the album sits at 50,000 plays to as little as under 25,000 plays. This indicates an artist known more as a singles artist than as an album artist, and it is worth pondering if this reputation is a fair one. Is Terri Clark an artist that can be appreciated just from the few singles she releases from each album, or are her albums as a whole worth checking out? Let’s see.
The album begins with “Emotional Girl,” with its fiddles and Clark’s twangy voice, an album that expresses Clark’s passionate heart and a warning to a would-be partner about this fact. “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” is an excellent cover and was a worthy hit from this album. “Just The Same” serves as a moving ballad with some excellent guitar work about the complications of love and Clark’s refusal to judge people on their money or past. “Something In The Water” offers a funny, but rather unhappy, reflection on a pattern of experience of moving on that the narrator shares with numerous other women. “Neon Flame” gives an inventive and creative way of describing an ex-partner in a way that seeks to allay the concerns of one’s current partner. “Any Woman” gives a melancholy reflection on the process of healing and recovery for a woman who’s been hurt by a man in a past relationship. “Twang Thang” addresses Clark’s fondness for country as a gatekeeping exercise, which sort of indirectly addresses her strong twang approach in her own singing. “You Do Or You Don’t” pushes a reluctant lover to face up to whether or not he actually loves her, with some excellent instrumentation. “Keeper Of The Flame” is a melancholy ballad about being with a workaholic partner who does not leave enough time for love and intimacy. “Not What I Wanted To Hear” is a driving song about the tension between needing to know the truth and not wanting to hear it because it is pleasant at the same time. “Hold Your Horses” speaks about the singer’s independent nature and her unwillingness to be pushed into marriage that seems to undercut some of the other songs on this album.
This album is a collection of songs that are individually enjoyable to listen to but are a bit of a chore to listen to together, especially given Clark’s sometimes shrill voice and not entirely pleasant attitude. If Clark can be praised for occasionally moving beyond relationship drama in this album (not to say that there isn’t plenty of that as well, though), when she does so she does not always do so very well, as when she engages in some country gatekeeping in “Twang Thang.” A couple of times, in “Any Woman” and “Something In The Water,” she gets pretty close to misandry in terms of examining problems with a man not in the individual but in the collective, which may please those who enjoy girl power but are less than pleasing to me, given my zero tolerance policy for misandry. Overall, each of these songs individually offers some pleasure to listen to, whether in the songwriting or the production and instrumentation, but the album as a whole is less than the sum of its parts, even if some of its parts deserve to be a lot better known.