Deana Carter | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Few women chafe against the Nashville hit-factory system because it doesn't allow them to be girly enough, but Deana Carter may be such a rarity. When Carter broke out on Capitol a decade back with Did I Shave My Legs for This? (on the strength of the genuinely funny title track and the wistfully folkish "Strawberry Wine"), she was hardly a virago, and given her small, supple voice she couldn't even have been cast as one; the title track of her 2003 album I'm Just a Girl was even more defiantly unliberated. Yet the new Story of My Life (Vanguard) is supposedly the record Carter's wanted to make all along--she produced and cowrote the whole thing--and it's dead set on finding a special sort of rebellious freedom in an almost preadolescent femininity. Compared to the title character in "Katie," who "lets her belly button show" and "wears perfume in her hair," "everybody else is just afraid to dream"; another narrator, swaddled in her "white lace bedspread," sighs, "Oh wouldn't it be scary / Just being ordinary?" But two obsessive postbreakup numbers stand out in particular: "The Girl You Left Me For," on which Carter scrunches herself into a Matrix-style pop production to deliver a self-abnegating (practically self-abasing) message to her ex, and the reluctantly defeated "She's Good for You" ("I saw her at the grocery store / The stuff in her cart was obviously yours"). Stone City Stragglers open. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $15.

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