Kim Richey's songwriting and singing have helped hoist numerous stars onto the country charts, but even 1997's excellent Bitter Sweet failed to find a huge audience for one of Nashville's most deserving musicians. Richey's third album Glimmer, however, seems to aim for more than just critical acclaim. The first and biggest indication that she may be tiring of her role as a lauded underdog is the presence of producer Hugh Padgham, best known for his work with the likes of Sting and Phil Collins. Padgham has about as much country experience as, well, "Mutt" Lange, but look where that got Shania Twain. Not that Richey is aiming for that kind of blatantly calculated commercial success, but she seems to be trying to just overshoot Lucinda Williams' level, perhaps aiming for a Sheryl Crow-style mixture of commercial success and integrity. The Padgham ploy may have worked, too. Though Richey's strong voice and guitar work are at the fore, it's Padgham who has the ear for slick arrangements and pop sheen that sells records. Much of Glimmer, particularly "The Way It Never Was" or the riff-rife "I Will Be The Strength In You," would make fine singles on country radio, while "Can't Lose Them All" and the Fleetwood Mac-ish "Lay It Down" are ripe with crossover potential. Ultimately, Padgham's studio smarts and Richey's songwriting skills are surprisingly compatible. Since her days as a child prodigy, Alison Krauss has always been a do-it-yourselfer, but at this point she has nothing to prove in terms of sales. Following her recording debut at 14, the violinist has gradually expanded her fan base while remaining true to her bluegrass roots: Now That I've Found You even went Top 10 in 1995. Forget About It is credited just to Krauss—minus her great backing band Union Station—and it's Krauss herself, not her playing, that forms the focus of the record. At 28, she's begun to infuse her work with a bit more mature drama, as Forget About It is packed with mushy ballads that have more in common with the end credits to romantic movies than country neotraditionalism. Krauss has a great voice, and the album is beautiful, but Forget About It, washed of all but the most minimal bluegrass elements, is just too safe.