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‘WildHorse’ review: RaeLynn moves beyond ‘The Voice’

RaeLynn's

RaeLynn's "Wildhorse" may help the "Voice" contestant make her mark. Credit: Warner Bros. Records

RAELYNN

“WildHorse”

THE GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE “The Voice” singer is grown up and ready with a debut on her own terms

Time for some real talk about “The Voice.”

As a TV show, it’s extraordinarily entertaining — especially this season in which Blake Shelton has to negotiate competing against new girlfriend Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine, with whom he has a long-running bromance. But as a singing competition where new talent is discovered and groomed for stardom? It’s come up short for years.

None of the 11 winners has yet managed a major pop hit after leaving the show. But maybe RaeLynn, a quarterfinalist from season 2, will change that.

The country singer has done a lot of growing in the five years since she was a precocious teenager on the show. And with her debut album, “WildHorse” (Warner Bros. Nashville), finally ready, RaeLynn, now 22, is set to make her mark on the country world.

Her new single “Love Triangle” shows how effectively she can tell a Miranda Lambert-styled weighty story, poignantly singing, “Some mamas and daddies have their heartstrings tear and tangle and some of us get stuck in a love triangle.” But RaeLynn is way better singing about the concerns of a 22-year-old, rolling out believable details in songs like “Lonely Call.” The pain she describes as she ignores her ex’s late-night call feels real, as she tells herself, “Let it ring, let it ring, let it ring, girl.”

RaeLynn balances those ballads with up-tempo pop-leaning songs like the old-school Taylor Swift-ish “Your Heart,” with its tongue-twisting verses stuffed with syllables mixed with a simple chorus of “You don’t know who you are til somebody breaks your heart.” And the “WildHorse” title track has pop crossover potential, as RaeLynn sets herself up as the country Katy Perry.

In a way, artistic shape-shifting is what “The Voice” requires from its contestants, though that doesn’t play well in the rest of the music industry. RaeLynn may break the rule by simply being herself.

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