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By Kerry Dexter
September, 2002
TERRI ALLARD, "Makes No Sense" 
(Reckless Abandon Music)

   Terri Allard's fourth album finds the Virginia based songwriter raising the bar on what she does with both her writing and her sound. It's a natural progression, really, containing elements that were present on her previous collections, such as the finely observed character study opening the way to deeper emotion on Brand New, the joyous serendipity in the one cover, Johnny Cash's Get Rhythm, and the understated commitment to the power of hope in Happy Endings. Hope, actually, is a theme of Allard's songs here. Anna Carolyn, written from the point of view of a dying man saying goodbye to his wife of forty years, is a gentle, thoughtful narrative filled with just the right touch of detail than never becomes overly sentimental. It's the only CO-write in the project; Allard's CO-writer (and background vocalist for the cut) is a musician to whom she's often been compared, Mary Chapin Carpenter.

  Allard has a subtle smokey alto whose grace and passion are especially evident on a pair of very different songs, Makes No Sense and Bright Day, the latter a duet with Tim Anderson. In the title track Allard submerses herself in the conflicting emotions of a love stronger and deeper than logic and reason; for Bright Day, she offers bittersweet yet hopeful remembrance of a friend who's gone on, and comfort and community for those left behind. And then she takes off and just has fun watching the shoeshine boy slap his rag (aided by some hot riffs from frequent musical partner Gary Green on harmonica) in Get Rhythm.

 For nearly a decade now, Allard has been quietly building a career writing songs, playing festivals, opening for folk and country top name stars, and being, as she says "too country for folk, and too folk for country." Whatever you call it, she's good, and just keeps getting better.