Updated: Amanda Shaw’s third solo album proclaims, with its title, that it’s about the performer’s identity. That’s just as true of her debut, 2004’s I’m Not a Bubble Gum Pop Princess, but Good Southern Girl represents a more developed personal and musical statement. The new title is obviously intended to be something of a tongue-in-cheek description of Shaw herself, but it finds the artist looking to locate herself with respect to the Louisiana Cajun tradition she grew up with and the Nashville new country and Southern rock traditions towards which bubble gum pop princesses sometimes tend—and where they find mainstream success.
Good Southern Girl was produced by Trina Shoemaker, who is perhaps best known for her work with Sheryl Crow on The Globe Sessions (1998) and C’Mon C’Mon (2002). It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that its drums and guitar, in particular, sound like they come from a Sheryl Crow record. Much of this album feels engineered for radio play and dancing at music festivals, in front of the kind of big stages that more tradition-minded performers usually can’t book. Shaw’s crossover effort bridges the gaps it notices between the various sections of her musical upbringing with aplomb, and its execution is impeccable.
There’s simply no arguing with her performances; she can play the fiddle. She’s precise, confident, and playful in her approach to soloing and, in particular, to the Cajun, Creole, country and traditional pieces sprinkled throughout Good Southern Girl. Traditionalists might wish that she’d kept that work further clear of arena-rock drums, twangy lead guitar and electric bass, but Amanda Shaw—good Southern girl though she may be—is 19 years old. She’s justifiably more interested in evolution and experimentation than in preservation.
Updated October 27, 11:15 a.m.
Text that was lost in the second paragraph during production has been restored.
Also, this is Shaw’s fourth album. Her first was 2001’s Little Black Dog.