LeAnn Rimes debuted several new songs at a packed show at the ASCAP Music Café here at Sundance on Jan. 25. Dressed casually in a sweater, black pants, and black velvet boots, Rimes assuredly ran through a 45-minute set accompanied only by keyboards and a guitar.
Although she’s been in the headlines more lately for her love life than her singing abilities, Rimes’ voice is a pure, powerful instrument. Ever since she burst on the scene as a 13-year old in the mid-90s and was hailed the next Patsy Cline, Rimes has displayed a rare talent among contemporary singers. Now 27, the Grammy winner has grown into her pipes.
Nowhere was that more evident then on “What Have I Done,” a raw, emotional song she premiered at Sundance, written by her, frequent collaborator Darrell Brown and David Baerwald. I would have never thought that the gritty Baerwald and mainstream Rimes would be too odd a pairing to work, but if “What Have I Done” is any indication; they capture lightning in a bottle together. Rimes did not say if the song referenced her recent divorce from Dean Sheremet, but it wasn’t hard to read between such lines as “What have I done/I broke the sweetest heart of the only man who ever loved me” and “There’s a hurt in me that I don’t understand.” It’s a gutwrenching tune. On the lighter side, she also performed the up-tempo “God Takes Care of Your Kind,” which she co-write as a revenge fantasy after a girlfriend went through a divorce from a scoundrel.
Rimes is working on two albums, she revealed. Up first will be a covers album produced by Vince Gill. Second will be an album of new material, some of which she debuted at Sundance.
She closed the Jan. 25 session at the Music Café. Among the artists also playing during that day’s concert were pop dance group 2AM Club, whose RCA debut comes out later this year, as well as singer/songwriter K.S. Rhodes, soulful rocker Daniella Cotton and the combo of Vertical Horizon’s Matt Scannell and Richard Marx. The duo played together on Tuesday after playing individual sets on Monday.
Aside from writing surefire melodic pop songs with airtight hooks, Scannell and Marx definitely knew how to work a crowd. Marx told the story of being recognized on Main Street on Monday by a woman who came running up to him and declared her love. He thanked her, after which she asked when had he lost his British accent. “She thought I was George Michael,” Marx grimaced. Scannell then asked if he’d been coming out a bathroom, referencing Michael’s sex scandal a few years back.
The two also managed to play some music between cracking jokes, including a number of songs made famous by each on their own, as well as some new songs, including a great one called “I’m Not Running,” where their voices blended seamlessly together. The pair released an acoustic collection last year and will release a live set recorded earlier this year soon, as well as an electric set in coming months.