Paula Cole

This Fire

  • Warner Bros.

An ex-touring mate of Peter Gabriel and Melissa Etheridge, Paula Cole takes a big career step with this insightful and deeply provocative sophomore effort. The album's dominated by her wondrous voice and mystical, consistently compelling material. The cool and seductive “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” was the breakthrough track, while other gems include the scorching “Throwing Stones” and the richly textured “Road to Dead.” Gabriel returned the touring favor by turning in a duet with Cole on another standout, “hush, hush, hush.” With a sound that recalls Kate Bush, Cole is quite likely a major star in the making.

— Kevin O'Hare