Missy Werner’s second release includes 14 songs that are predominantly contemporary in style and are drawn from such writers as Jennifer Strickland, Jon Weisberger, Jeremy Garrett, and Mark Brinkman, among others. The exceptions are “Blue Skies And Teardrops” (a tribute to Lynn Morris) and “Journey To My Savior’s Side” (a tribute to the Bluegrass Cardinals) and are what can be termed as known songs; not standards, but certainly known to many.
n that balance, the choice of material here is similar to that of her debut. What is different is the presentation. On the debut, there was power and emotion in Werner’s voice, but also searching. Two years on, the power and emotion have strengthened and gone is the searching. In its place is confidence and determination, focusing better the listener on the problem, the story, and the emotion.
Gone also is the studio band of Stewart, Nixon, Bibey, Kohrs, and Stafford from the debut, replaced by Werner’s touring band of Artie Werner on guitar, Jeff Roberts on banjo, and Tim Strong on bass. Guests Aaron Till on fiddle and Mike Witcher on resonator guitar add to the mix, as does banjoist Ned Luberecki on “If I Fall.” Some will miss the star power, but my own thinking is that sound is now more realistic, more intimate, and more appropriate. These are not songs demanding hot solos, but rather songs that cry for good ensemble work, which is what the band provides.
Those two shifts, one toward confidence, the other toward a more homegrown, ensemble sound, give this recording a more unified effect. Add several fine song choices that include Werner’s emphatic duet on “Endlessly,” the country and ’50s pop hybrid of “Leaves In The Wind,” the joyful and quick “If I Fall,” and Mark Brinkman’s laundry list of “Three Little Words” that can save a relationship, and the result is a strong follow-up to her debut. (Missy Werner, 4958 Cedar Brook Ct., Liberty Turnpike, OH 45011, www.missywerner.com.) BW