Even at the ripe old age of 21–seven years older than LeAnn Rimes–Mandy Barnett is easily one of Nashville’s most promising new singers. Following a two-year stint as the lead in the Ryman Theater production of Always…Patsy Cline, in 1996 Barnett released a stunning debut that drew a clear line from the beautifully overripe sounds of 60s countrypolitan to the high gloss of current country radio. While her cause was bolstered by the smart decision to open the record with a couple of superb Jim Lauderdale tunes (in particular, the sultry, strolling “Planet of Love” suggests that she probably nailed the Cline role), even on less distinctive numbers like the syrupy “Rainy Days” Barnett makes a strong impression. And though she hasn’t quite come into her own as a stylist–the mark of Cline and, to a lesser degree, of Linda Ronstadt are still upon her–there’s no denying her exceptionally powerful, agile voice, which can embellish a melody with slippery glides, sensual growls, or hushed recitations. Recently she contributed to the sound track of Traveller (Asylum), and her take on Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” suggests impressive progress. These dates mark her local debut. Saturday, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. Sunday, 8 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Mandy Barnett photo (uncredited).