CD REVIEWS: Soozie Tyrell comes into her own

The Patriot Ledger - JAY N. MILLER

WHITE LINES, Soozie Tyrell, (Treasure Records)

Here's one of the year's best rock albums from a heretofore unheralded source.

Soozie Tyrell has perhaps been best known as the violinist in Bruce Springsteen's

E Street Band. The 11 original tunes on this CD mark Tyrell immediately as both

a compelling songwriter and talented singer.

The overall sound of the album will not disappoint fans of ''The Boss,'' but the

rootsy authenticity of her rock reminded me most of John Mellencamp during

his ''Scarecrow'' and ''Lonesome Jubilee'' period.

The title cut leads off the album with a whirlwind autobiographical tale set amid

soaring heartland rock. Constant movement and the accompanying family changes

are portrayed in evocative vignettes, using the road as a recurring metaphor.

The payoff is that as a professional musician, Tyrell has never really stopped

travelling, with all its benefits and travails. Tyrell's violin leads are set against lead

guitar from a guest named Springsteen, the song has undeniable power that instantly

draws you in.

Tyrell's vocals might suggest a deeper-voiced Sheryl Crow, or perhaps a more buoyant

Lucinda Williams, and the slow ballad ''Ste. Genevieve'' offers a fine sample of her skill.

There might be more than a dollop of autobiographical content to ''The Wild Ones'' too,

a midtempo rocker about maturity that allows Tyrell's vocal to slide effortlessly from

blithe and casual to aching regret.

Tyrell's backing band is excellent throughout, and Bob Dylan band-member

Larry Campbell's mandolin provides superb color to the love-on-the-rebound tune

''Have a Little Patience.'' There's admirable variety on this CD, from a thoughtful Celtic

ballad ''Ferdouganal,'' to the otherworldly feel of ''Who Rules Your Life,'' a dreamy rocker

with jazzman Hiram Bullock adding a spacey guitar solo that works perfectly against

Tyrell's synthesizer violin solo.

The way Tyrell uses the contrast between her voice and violin on the kissoff song

''Ain't Goin' Back'' is marvelous.

My own favorite would be the joyous rocker ''Out on Bleecker Street,'' a sort of memento

of her struggling, younger days. Here guest vocalists Patti Scialfa (Mrs. Springsteen),

Patty Blee and Lisa Lowell, along with a backing quintet that includes both Bullock and

Campbell on guitars, craft a deliriously vibrant song with as much charm and pure joy at

being alive as anything Springsteen himself ever wrote.