Strangers & Angels
When Mickie James began her WWE professional wrestling career, her character idolized and emulated the top woman wrestler at the time in hopes of gaining stardom of her own. Jumping into the country music scene, she seems to be taking the same path. Taking a break from wrestling, James draws on an odd mix of Shania Twain’s late-’90s material and the more recent work of Gretchen Wilson and Miranda Lambert. “Are You With Me” has the rough and rowdy party feel of the latter artists, but when we get to “Freedom Song,” the themes still surround strong, independent women but the mood switches to a slightly less in-your-face approach. The combination of the two styles, along with the occasional hint at a power ballad, is certainly weird but thankfully, it also helps the songs stray from the current pop-country trend. The title track, “Don’t Apologize,” and “I’m No Good at Pretending” are honky-tonk fun and will ensure fans won’t tap out. The album is certainly not the train wreck that was Hulk Rules by Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Band, but James shouldn’t take down her five Women’s Championship belts to make way for a Grammy.