Ennis Sisters 

It's Not About You

When it was released in Canada last year, the title track of the Ennis Sisters' debut It's Not About You became a huge hit. The sisters won a Juno (Canadian Grammy) for Best New Country Artist and hope to duplicate that success in the United States.

The Ennis Sisters have a lot going for them. Lead vocalist Maureen has a strong vocal presence and a phrasing that suggests she's listened to a lot of Dolly Parton albums. The sisters' harmonies (and the women themselves) are gorgeous, full of that sibling assonance that's done so well for family groups from the Carters to the Everlys. The bad news is that the backing band lays down polished tracks in the manner of their brothers down in Nashville: solid, precise, and not too exciting. The fiddling, pedal steel, and mandolin often sound like afterthoughts aimed at capturing a bit of the Dixie Chicks' market share.

Then there's Maureen's songwriting. There are bright moments such as "If Only," a weeper that's a good addition to the tradition of unrequited love songs, and "I'd Never Walk Away," a kiss off to a deadwood boyfriend that uses a subtle hip-hop backbeat and a has a nice rhythmic flourish. But sadly, the clunkers here outweigh the good tunes. Ennis depends too much on familiar chord progressions and the kind of emotional clichés about life and love that make listening to today's country radio such a chore.

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