Jessie James is a talented singer who continues to straddle the country and pop genres. Her new song 'When You Say My Name' is her most country effort to date, yet it still makes hits from crossover artists like Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift feel steeped in Nashville traditionalism. The 23-year-old is a woman standing over two glaciers moving in opposite directions.

James clearly wants to be a country artist, and she has a voice strong enough to stand up on its own. This begs the question of "Who's stopping her?" A producer, perhaps, as the electric instrumentation used on 'When You Say My Name' -- specifically the piano -- are distracting and superficial. The opening "do do dos" will have some country fans reaching for the next radio preset, and the rest may leave when she gets to the repetitive "Say my name / Say my name" toward the end.

"Monday, long day / Started off the wrong way / Runnin' on empty / Faith and black coffee," James sings to begin the song. Along with the chorus, these are the most memorable lyrics. The songwriter would have been wise to request assistance penning a second verse that's less a place holder than words meant to advance a story.

The chorus goes, "When you say my name / Everything comes alive / You take the darkest room / And you turn on the lights / When you touch my hand / You're telling me a secret only we can understand / When you say my name (say my name, say my name)."

Three years ago, Jessie James debuted with 'My Cowboy,' a hybrid song Christina Aguilera may have chosen should she have decided to move to Nashville. 'When You Say My Name' is progress, but it ultimately ends up short of what even the most open-minded country music fans will be likely to embrace.

2 Stars

Listen to Jessie James' 'When You Say My Name'

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