Craig Havighurst
May 21, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Gretchen Wilson’s buzz began with the trailer-park party anthem ”Redneck Woman,” but her debut, Here for the Party, augurs a future deeper than one sing-along hit. ”Pocahontas Proud” is a perceptive, self-penned mission statement, and ”When I Think About Cheatin”’ rides the razor’s edge between fidelity and temptation in classic honky-tonk style, while Wilson’s river-gravel voice evokes Tanya Tucker’s unvarnished blues influence. Country needs this: an artist who refuses to apologize for her roots or glam up for celebrity’s sake.

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