We gave it an A
In 1980, Carter, of the impeccable hillbilly pedigree (daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith, granddaughter of Mother Maybelle, and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash), took her legacy to an outer branch of the family tree when she recorded her third LP, ”Musical Shapes,” one of the finest country-rock albums of the post-rockabilly age. After that Carter disappeared for a decade, during which she made her home in England with then-husband Nick Lowe, finally returning Stateside to tour with the remaining Carter Family. On this comeback album, Carter, at 34, sounds like a combination of the young Dolly Parton and the even younger Brenda Lee, and incorporates both the rural authenticity of her heritage and the smart progression of contemporary country rock. Sometimes she manages to evoke the Carter Family sound within an original framework, as on the acoustic-based ”Me and the Wildwood Rose,” a tribute to Mother Maybelle that laments the passing of an era. A soulful interpreter and a stunning songwriter, Carter was ahead of her time a decade ago. This album should allow everyone else to catch up with her.