Sara Petite, The Empress. Sara Petite has country roots, but particularly on this latest release, they’re far from the first thing you’ll notice.
In fact, the muscular backup on songs like “Forbidden Fruit” sounds like something out of Rod Stewart’s Gasoline Alley period while the nuanced vocals conjure up a raunchy, rock-oriented version of Iris DeMent.
Not everything works on The Empress, whose 11 songs—all written or co-written by Petite—include several where her voice competes for attention with a surfeit of instrumentation. But the album has more than a few high points, including ballads and midtempo numbers like “The Mistress” and “Tread Softly” and the fiddle-spiced, danceable “Bringin’ Down the Neighborhood.”