In the mid-’90s, country’s lone female ”hat act” hit it big as an unpretentious good-time gal, then made a commercially unsuccessful detour into sensitive-singer-songwriter territory. Was she Hank Williams Jr. or Mary Chapin Carpenter? Clark’s split personality finally fuses in her fifth album. Pain To Kill is full of emotionally resonant reflections on the single life (or the married, with ”I Just Wanna Be Mad”), but also provides some barroom novocaine by bringing back the honky-tonk brio in a big way.
Pain to Kill