Music News & Reviews

Messina out of patience with label over unreleased CD

Such a story lurks behind country star Jo Dee Messina's upcoming CD Unmistakable that she could write a book about it. And she is.

Messina says she's writing about how the album was shelved repeatedly long after it was completed, and she's considering a "hateful" title: Unmistakable: The Day the Music Died.

"They're just killing it," she says.

Messina started work on the rock-solid, reflective CD six years ago; the first single was to be released in early 2007, with the full record coming out soon after.

But the release dates got bumped around, causing delays that Messina says were due mostly to turmoil at Curb Records.

She had hoped that one of the singles, Biker Chick, would be a hit, but the label held off on releasing it, telling Messina the song was "giving off the wrong impression."

Messina says she got frustrated trying to deliver songs the label wanted. Whenever she asked what kinds of songs were needed, the label executives told her they would know it when they heard it.

A new single, That's God, surfaced in recent weeks, reigniting rumors of an April release date for Unmistakable. But a new shakeup in the label's promotions department put that in jeopardy.

"I'm not sure about the album now," Messina says. "It's devastating how it affects not just myself and my career, but all the people who work for me. And my tour dates are limited without the album out there."

As Messina waits for the fate of Unmistakable, she finds satisfaction in touring. She says her Music Room tour — the date nearest Lexington is Marysville, Tenn., on March 26 — started out as a storyteller type of show, but then "it became less about me and why I recorded the songs and more about the audience and why they relate to the songs."

There's no set list, she says. She and the band come out and do a couple of songs, and then she throws it out to the audience for requests.

She also listens to fans.

"They talk about when they were going through a hard time and how they listened to Bring on the Rain, and it gave them strength," she says. "And then we play it. We never know what will happen."

Touring lets her "connect with the audience" while she waits for Unmistakable, Messina says.

"That's why, with these Music Room shows, I can see that the hard-core fans are still there and give them a sneak peek of the new songs."