Three years ago, Aubrey Collins appeared to be on the fast track to superstardom. On Back to Me, her 2002 debut, she displayed a talent and maturity far beyond her fourteen years, turning the heads of many Nashville execs and filling them with visions of LeAnn Rimes. But then Collins took a hard left off the country road and headed in an entirely different direction. Baby girl's all grown up now, and World Without Me, her latest effort -- which will be celebrated with a CD-release party this Saturday, January 21, at the Gothic Theatre -- marks the completion of her stunning transformation from quaint back-roads chanteuse into sultry, hard-pop femme fatale. Collins didn't completely abandon mainstream country, though: Like Mutt Lange in reverse, World producer Trey Bruce has helmed recordings by such country luminaries as the late Chris LeDoux, Suzy Bogguss and Trace Adkins, as well as penning songs for John Michael Montgomery, Trisha Yearwood, Diamond Rio and Ms. Rimes herself. Despite Bruce's countrified pedigree, though, Collins comes off as more Kelly Clarkson than Carrie Underwood on the disc. In fact, standout tracks such as "You're Full of It" and "Fighting" are driven by screaming guitars, rather than a forlorn pedal steel, and Collins's polished pipes, which are as easy on the ears as she is on the eyes.
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