Men & Mascara by Julie Roberts 

Men & Mascara

Julie Roberts

(Mercury Records)

Julie Roberts has a roadhouse drawl that is at once distinctive (unless you count Lucinda Williams, there's no female like her in country music) and dangerous. The danger comes in the form of parody, which Roberts flirts with on every note she sings. On Men & Mascara, Roberts' second album, she wisely gravitates toward slower tempos and old-fashioned tales of men who do wrong and the women who love them. The title track and "Chasing Whiskey" are apt vehicles for Roberts, but "Girl Next Door," a chirpy number about the good-hearted girl who isn't the cheerleader, ain't. "That Ain't a Crime" is a superheated diva turn and a real chance for Roberts to crash and burn, but she nails it and only makes you wish there were a couple more like it on the album. ("That Ain't a Crime," "Men & Mascara") -- Werner Trieschmann

Grade: B

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