Alecia Nugent. “Hillbilly Goddess.” Rounder. 11 tracks.

If “Hillbilly Goddess” had been made 40 years ago, it would have been a major country album. And Alecia Nugent would be a contender for the Country Music Association’s female vocalist of the year award.

But what they’d called country music 40 years ago is mostly found in bluegrass today.

While there are some fine uptempo songs on this album — including the title cut about finding love at a tractor pull and happiness in a double-wide — it’s on the ballads that Nugent really shines.

She can wring the lonesome out of any lyrics with a voice that was made for hurtin’ songs.

On “Don’t Tell Me,” she realizes that she can’t stop loving a man who no longer loves her.

“Just Another Alice” tells the story of wannabe country music stars coming to “wonderland” in search of wealth and fame. “The Last Greyhound” follows a woman’s journey in search of something that was already at home.

“Dyin’ To Hold Her Again” is about a man drinking himself to death so he can be with his late wife. In “Wishin’ Hard,” she knows she can live without the man she loves, but she doesn’t want to.

“The Writing’s All Over The Wall,” a duet with Bradley Walker, tells of a love that has ended, with nothing left to do but say good-bye. And “Already Home” says you can travel forever, but what you’re looking for is inside you.

“The Nugent Family Band” is an uptempo song about her father’s Southland Bluegrass Band, where she grew up performing as a child.

“Wreckin’ The Train” is an uptempo number about a ramblin’ woman and “Cryin’ All The Way To The Bank” is a fun romp about a woman who’s glad he’s gone.

It’s been three years since Nugent’s last album. Let’s hope it’s not that long before the next.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.rounder.com.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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