Jamie O’Neal's second album, Brave, finds her tacking in a country-pop direction somewhere between Shania Twain’s playful sass and Martina McBride’s earnest compassion. Co-writing most of the tunes, O’Neal takes a sometimes wry but generally optimistic stance towards love in “Naïve,” “Follow Me Home,” and “On My Way to You.” Family matters are on her mind as she sings about the joys of domesticity in “I Love My Life” and celebrates the everyday valor of motherhood in “Somebody’s Hero.” Jamie gets sultry in the atmospheric story-song “Devil On the Left” and cuts loose on the feminine solidarity anthem “Girlfriends.” And even though she didn’t write “Trying to Find Atlantis,” she makes this amusing account of a single girl’s troubles fit the album’s overall mood. The ballads allow Jamie’s powerhouse voice to emote and ascend and Brave advances O’Neal a little closer to the top tier of country divahood.

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