jessicaharp-awomanneeds.jpgYou might not recognize the name Jessica Harp, but you might recognize the name “The Wreckers,” the country-rock duo Jessica Harp formed with Michelle Branch between 2005-2007.

Earlier this summer, I saw Jessica Harp perform to a crowded, small venue where she opened with “Leave the Pieces,” a catchy tune that was a signature song from her days in “The Wreckers.” Now that “The Wreckers” has disbanded, Harp is a solo country music artist with an album–“A Woman Needs”–coming out in February 2010 that will showcase her singing and songwriting country roots. She has a popular single of her own–“Boy Like Me,” which reached #30 on Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs” chart in June 2009. (Hallelujah, I finally found a boy like me / Lord have mercy, I think I’m in a fantasy”).


On a promotional tour, she played songs from her upcoming album, including “Boy Like Me” (which sounds just as fun and bold live as it does on TV and radio) and her title track, “A Woman Needs,” soon to be released as a single in December (“A woman needs, to believe / she can take the road she’s never known /A woman needs a few second chances / a little room to dance in, all night long”). Harp’s voice is clear and strong on her four-track promotional CD, but her voice becomes a little strained and lost among the guitars and drums during a living performance. There’s no doubt her love and talent is in country music, and fans of Sugarland, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood will like her music–it’s inspirational, accessible country music that can easily go from mainstream radio to country radio.

My favorite song on the CD is “Love Letter,” a sweet, slightly melancholy banjo-flecked song dedicated to her family and written after she had moved out of the house for the first time. While her songs are less focused on God and faith, the roots of country music, she addresses big life struggles and changes shared by everyone: experiencing relationship uncertainty and heartache, leaving home as an adult, and figuring out where to go in life. Most important of all, these universal themes are tailored for a woman–to empower and encourage her along an uncertain life path.

“A Woman Needs” is being released on February 16, 2010. 

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