George Strait Review

By TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

Nov 28, 2007 - I’m not sure just how he does it, but every time George Strait steps up to a microphone, the stars and planets align and everything seems right with the world. He  imprints songs with an easy, breezy style without abandoning his roots. He takes the sting out of cheating songs and even makes “drinking champagne” sound pretty cool.

It Just Comes Natural
By George Strait
MCA. October 2006. $13.98. 
5/5 Stars

Even if country music is not your favorite cup of herbal tea, it’s hard not to like Strait’s smooth, secure delivery. 

During the course of his 26-year career, he’s sold more than 62 million records. He’s the all-time leader in number one country singles. He’s also earned more platinum certifications than any artist in country music.

The King of Country is also the King of Cool. He’s always impeccably turned out in  starched Wranglers, Justin boots and a western shirt that highlights his sparkling baby blues. He’s something of a rarity in country music – a solid family man, having married Norma, his high school sweetheart, in 1971. 

�It Just Comes Natural� won Album of the Year at the recent Country Music Association Awards. Its single, �Give It Away,� won Song of the Year the same night.�

Strait has been nominated for a CMA over 73 times, including 16 times for Entertainer of the Year and 23 Male Vocalist of the Year. He was named Entertainer of the Year in 1989 and 1990. He was Vocalist of the Year in 1985, 1986, 1996, 1997 and 1998.

�Give It Away,� the first cut on the CD, is a classic country break-up song delivered with just a hint of Merle Haggard tossed in for good measure.

�She Told Me So� delivers tongue-in-cheek lyrics so popular in country music.

I’m her world
And she revolves around me.
Just being close to me
Makes her love grow.
Each night she thanks God for the day she found me.
When she came home this morning, she told me so.  

�That�s My Kind of Woman� offers the acoustic sound Strait has favored lately. No slick production necessary here. It�s just Strait and some great acoustic guitar work by Mac McAnally. McAnally, recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, has written hits for Kenny Chesney and is a much-sought after studio musician. �

�Wrapped� could have been written by Bob Wills. It�s a solid two-stepping number with a great turn on the fiddle by Stuart Duncan and some fine steel guitar licks courtesy of Paul Franklin. Strait�s never sounded more plantive as he sings about the perils of being wrapped around a lady�s �pretty little finger.�

The CD’s title track is one of three love-gone-right songs. “One Foot in Front of the Other” and “What Say” give us an insider’s look into true love.

Strait takes on the role of a sympathetic bartender in “He Must Have Really Hurt You Bad.” McAnally and Duncan again provide an extra dimension of loneliness to the cut. Nice.

�A Heart Like Hers,� �Why Can�t I Leave Her Alone,� �A Better Rain� and �Come On Joe� are pure, Strait-up country, with the requisite twang, steel slides and some break-your-heart-in-two tales of loving and leaving.�

Strait is well-known for his support of fellow singer-songwriters, so putting Guy Clark’s rollicking “Texas Cookin’” on the CD is no surprise. Some spicy licks from Franklin’s steel guitar add a fresh kick to the bouncy tune.

As good as the other cuts are, Strait comes close to perfection with “I Ain’t Her Cowboy Anymore.” Like his hit, “Amarillo By Morning,” the cowboy gets the short end of the loop again and is forced to hit the road alone. 

If you’re already a fan, this CD will satisfy your Strait cravings. If you’re new to country music, the album is a good way to discover why 62 million fans can’t be wrong.

 

With “22 More Hits,”  George Strait releases hit singles that might not have made it to number one on the charts, but have left an impression with his loyal fans. The CD is a follow-up to “50 Number Ones,” released in 2004.

22 More Hits
By George Strait
MCA. November 2007. $13.98. 
5/5 Stars

�I've had people ask me why this song or that song wasn't on the Number Ones album�� Strait said in a press release. �If it's their favorite song, I guess they don't care if it was number one on a chart. This album gave me the chance to include some of the fans� other favorites and mine.�

With cuts like, “Unwound” (George's first single and first top 10 hit), “If You're Thinking You Want A Stranger,” “Amarillo By Morning,” “The Fireman,” “Cowboys Like Us,” “You'll Be There” and “Marina Del Ray” the CD is a great way to enjoy pure country, Strait up.  

Strait begins a nationwide  tour Jan.10 in Austin. For more information see his website: www.georgestrait.com.

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