LeAnn Rimes on New Music, Old Scandals and Tabloid Scrutiny

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by Marissa R Moss - Rolling Stone

LeAnn Rimes has started to write things down. Not just for song ideas — that was a given, as she compiled the material that would become her next studio album — but for the simple reason that she just wanted to stop forgetting.

"There is a whole part of my life I have no recollection of, because it was so fast," Rimes tells Rolling Stone Country, seated in her dressing room at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, before her show with the orchestra later that night. She's wearing a long-sleeved red dress and, to her left, an iPad pings with messages every now and again while a makeup artist sets out some lipsticks by the mirror. "No one told me, at 14, to take a moment and enjoy these two Grammys I just won. No one said, 'Slow down and take a moment to enjoy it all.' But now, every little success I'm like, 'That was good.' I have a journal of things I write down so I can literally remember." She pauses for a moment, adding, "I think it was a defense mechanism."

It's been 20 years since the release of Blue, the album that launched Rimes into superstardom (it went six times platinum in the United States alone), back when she was barely a teenager and still in her awkward stage, which puts her in the odd place of being both an elder stateswoman in country music but also, at 33, in what she considers the prime of her life. It also leaves her starting anew, with a fresh record deal — Rimes recently signed with RCA Label Group in the United Kingdom, severing ties with Curb Records after two decades on their roster, and released a single, a cover of Brandi Carlile's "The Story," in the U.K.

To look back on Blue now, and the title song — including all those stunning runs and vintage yodels that Rimes insisted on herself — is to find a prime example of how well Nineties Nashville could blend pop construction with tradition (now, "Blue" sounds downright throwback). But what really made it stand out is how well Rimes, despite her years, could capture not just the vocal nuances so particular to the genre, but its signature ache and heartbreak, too.

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