Penny Jo Pullus
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Sept. 13, 2002
Penny Jo PullusMy Turn to Howl (Art of Balance)
Penny Jo Pullus has been honing her craft around Austin for quite a while now, playing on just about any stage that will have her. The results of this hard work are evidenced on her third disc, My Turn to Howl, which shows substantial growth in style and ability compared to anything she's previously committed to disc. Pullus possesses a strong and attractive voice that matches up well with her brand of country/pop, which falls somewhere between the twang of Karen Poston and the folk rock of Trish Murphy. She's joined by some of Austin's prime players, including Casper Rawls, Chip Dolan, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Ian MacLagan, Brad Fordham, Paul Skelton, the set's producer Ron Flynt, and a whole bunch more. Still, something's missing here. Pullus' own songs lack originality, which is not always a crime in country music, but overall, her wordplay is overly simple, and her melodies seem tired and worn. She covers tunes by Flynt and Monte Warden, Craig Marshall, and others that don't stand up well to repeated listening, especially the trite "Crazy for You" and the saccharine "Hardly a Day Goes By." Her duet with hot honky-tonker of the moment Kevin Fowler on "Baby Ride Easy," a song popularized by Carlene Carter, is pleasant, yet never shoots off any real sparks. My Turn to Howl demonstrates Pullus' potential, and it's a step beyond her past efforts. Maybe the next time she'll hit the home run she has in her.