As three new singers testify, country continues to splinter into different camps. Toby Keith, who has scored a minor hit with ”Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” offers a polished baritone and a predominant Hal Ketchum groove. But his album falls apart when it becomes a sampler for everything from novelty tunes to ersatz R&B.
John Brannen may look like a California surfer, but he’s really a spiritual cousin to Jerry Lee Lewis and Joe Ely, with a tenor as scratchy as a $4 suit. Look for Brannen to make waves with the counterculture crowd — he’s got an imagination raised on locoweed, and an advanced degree from the Texas school of singer-songwriters.
Shania (Shu-nye-uh) Twain might very well have started a whole new genre of country music-cowgirl and Indian-since her father was a member of the Ojibwa tribe. Instead of ancestral drums, however, Twain has her ear pressed to Karen Carpenter. ”Please forget me,” she pleads on one song. Consider it done. Twain: D+