Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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BOBBIE CRYNER
Girl of Your Dreams
MCA

Early in 1993, a 30-year-old unknown named Bobbie Cryner released one of those rare Nashville albums where most of the songs cut deep--and the singing carries the ones that don't. These come once or twice a year, and not counting such rank outsiders as Lucinda Williams, the only women to pull one off since Dolly Parton went Hollywood are Rosanne Cash, K.T. Oslin, and maybe a Judd or two. Bobbie Cryner, on Epic, was smart, sexy, spunky, smoky, mean; it had fast ones that told men off and slow ones that torched them coming and going. But after a few minor hits, it nose-dived, taking Cryner with it. Her marriage shot, she got serious with alcohol, and for better or worse ended up in a 12-step program. As you might fear, her second chance is shorter on spunk and fast ones and avowedly less "dark." The surprise is how smart it is anyway.

Like all great Nashville product, Girl of Your Dreams (MCA) is designed for adults who've put in several years on a single monogamous relationship--a theme so rich that Nashville is always finding new wrinkles in it. Cryner helped write all three killers: "The Girl of Your Dreams," in which it turns out the dream is over; "You'd Think He'd Know Me Better," about the wages of keeping your own counsel; and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," a 12-step anthem cunningly disguised as a postbreakup epiphany. And she smokes Grade A Music Row corn like the excessively perky "Oh To Be the One," which honors the cheery promise the title tune undercuts, and the warmly resigned closer "Just Say So." It's your right to believe there's more to love than this. The glory of great Nashville is that it won't settle for less.

Spin, 1996