If Emmylou Harris had grown up on an Oklamona cattle ranch instead of the D.C. suburbs, she'd probably have the authentic honkey tonk sound of Reba McEntire, McEntire boasts a soprano as clear and lovely as Harris', and the Oklamoman can sing saloon weepers without a trce of irony. Her breakthrough records featured a rodeo simplicity and a stubborn female resilience, but she's now being pressured towrd the Nashville mainstream.
The bulk of ther new album, "Whoever's in New England," is in her familiar style of lively western swing and unadorned confessionals, but several cuts (especially the title tune) suvver from Jummy Bowen's overproduction and a woman-as-victum theme. One can only hope that McEntire resists the pressure and stays true to her best instincts.
As the title of their second album,"Perfume, Ribbons & Pearls," suggests, the Forester Sisters have embraced the old-fashioned notion of a woman in a passive, dependent role. The four Georgia sisters have strong voices that blend instinctively into entancing harmonies. Yet the passivity of their material is reflected in their limp, careful arrangements that contrast sharply with the similar but more aggressive Appalachian harmonies of the Judds, This is obvious on the Foresters' listless remake of the Supremes "Back in My Arms Again,"
Like McEntire and the Foresters, Lee Greenwood has a strong, attractive voice and a string of country hits. Greenwood, however, will do anything go het one of those hits: croon over Perry Como strings, mouth the hoariest cliches of even wrap himself in the American flag. His "Greatest Hits" album is a compendium of everything that's wrong with Nashville in the '80s.
REBA MCENTIRE- "Whoever's in New England" (MCA, 5691)
THE FORESTER SISTERS- "Perfume, Ribbons & Pearls" (Warner Bros.)
LEE GREENWOOD- "Greatest Hits" (MCA) All appearing at Bull Run Park Sunday afternoon.