Album cover  titled  "100 Proof " by Kellie Pickler.

Album cover titled "100 Proof " by Kellie Pickler. Credit: Handout/

The first third of Kellie Pickler's "100 Proof" (Sony Nashville) is so far from the sassy/kooky persona she has crafted for herself that she's almost unrecognizable. "Where's Tammy Wynette?" is equal parts forward-looking savvy and classic-country-loving retro. "Stop Cheatin' on Me" feels like an undiscovered Loretta Lynn guitar ballad that could easily become Pickler's signature song, while "Long As I Never See You Again," which she co-wrote, is filled with a gorgeous, understated ache. "100 Proof" gradually gets soggier and watered down, but the potent opening casts Pickler in a new leading-lady light.

KELLIE PICKLER

"100 Proof"

GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE The zany "American Idol" fave gets classic-country serious

Top Stories