Sherrie Austin's first studio album in eight years contains a surprising lack of new material. No fewer than four of the 13 songs on 'Circus Girl' have been previously recorded by other artists, with three going on to be singles, two of which stalled on the charts. But the collection is a female empowerment record, and an effective one at that.

After the title track and the single-worthy 'Tryin' to Be Me,' Austin comes with eight straight lovin, leavin', missin' or fem-partyin' pop-flavored country tunes. It is the ultimate album for women on the mend. If you're a guy looking for something to hang your cowboy hat on, you'll be better off moving along.

The Austin co-written 'Bad for Me' is a sassy highlight, but it's identical to the version Danielle Peck released in 2007. The same can be said of 'That Kind of Happy' (Emily West in 2009). 'I Didn't' was recorded by Kristin Chenoweth for her most recent album. Austin re-records her biggest hit, 'Streets of Heaven,' and this new version adds little to the original.

Where Austin wins is that she manages to record all of these girl power songs without sounding bitter or angry. Instead she's a woman who may have lived through these moments but is far enough removed to have gained some perspective. 'Circus Girl' is a fun album, but not the type of artistic release one may have expected from a singer who hasn't recorded in so long.