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Sylvia Hotel.

Sylvia Hotel * Cheryl Wheeler * Philo/Rounder

Sometimes complicated talents attract fervid followings that even include major stars, but they somehow fail to magnetize major sales. Cheryl Wheeler is that kind of artist. She spends nearly half of every year playing to rapturous crowds and has seen her country-folk tunes made hits by Suzy Bogguss ("Aces," "Moonlight and Roses," and "Don't Wanna"), Dan Seals ("Addicted"), Kathy Mattea ("Further and Further Away"), and even Bette Midler ("I Know This Town"). Yet she remains more of a singer's songwriter than a media notable, heard through her interpreters. Like Ani DiFranco, Wheeler plays to those who know, and her offhand charm makes her as consummate an entertainer as she is a chronicler of the everyday. She has an ache in her voice that doesn't quit. And she's a lesbian.

Fans of country independents such as Roseanne Cash or Mary Chapin Carpenter should start with Wheeler's latest, Sylvia Hotel. Her sixth album presents the relationship-oriented side of her repertoire that ropes in the royalty checks (future hits like "But the Days and Nights Are Long") as well as sly observational ditties ("Potato," "Meow") that provide comic relief. You know Wheeler is a woman-lovin' woman when she sings love songs to her cats.

Walters is a pop-music critic for The Advocate.

Find more on this topic at www.advocate.com
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Walters, Barry
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Mar 30, 1999
Words:224
Previous Article:One Pound Note.
Next Article:In the Street.
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