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Review: Laura Bell Bundy, 'Achin' and Shakin''

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Laura Bell Bundy

Achin' and Shakin' 

In the video for Giddy on Up, the debut single by Laura Bell Bundy, she's dressed as a saloon girl in the Old West, dancing on a tabletop, singing a done-wrong song about a cowboy cad. Cue tightly choreographed routines, playful seduction and a frightful scene in which she shoots off all of the nogoodnik's clothes except his boxers. By the end, she's playing salacious sheriff, midriff bared and dragging her man by a rope as her horse gallops out of town.

Bundy, a Lexington native, has a long history on Broadway, with roles in Hairspray and Wicked before originating the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Giddy on Up plays like a mini-musical, overexuberant and distracting, with Bundy relying on her old skills to do her new job. It's a relief, then, that Achin' and Shakin,' her first major-label album, is far calmer. It's split into halves: Giddy on Up is on the shakin' side, which is the weaker half: chaotic and a little glib. I'm No Good (for Ya Baby) pretends to be a tease, but it never rises above callousness, while Rebound is perkily frisky.

By contrast, on the achin' side, Bundy is relaxed. This set of songs forces her to exhale, revealing a lovely voice with alluring nooks and crannies that need no adornment. She's best on Curse the Bed, which sounds as if sung after a couple of sleepless nights: Bundy sings and sighs — it sounds like aching, but inside, she's shaking.

JON CARAMANICA THE NEW YORK TIMES

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