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George Strait, ‘Love Is Everything’ – Album Review

Love is Everything
MCA Nashville

George Strait steps back in time for his newest release, ‘Love Is Everything.’ In the past, the singer always found a way to add a touch of contemporary to his traditional sound. There’s nothing to separate this from albums he made throughout the ’80s and ’90s, but that’s not necessarily a criticism.

Timeless. It’s a word often overused, but with Strait it’s appropriate. So many of his songs could come from any era of country music, and the 13 on ‘Love Is Everything’ are no exception. It’s a project that his longtime fans will adore, but one a younger listener should avoid come sleepy time.

Unlike ‘Here for a Good Time’ (2011), there are few — if any — surprises on the album. The collection doesn’t feel nearly as personal, a point underscored by the singer’s name on just four of the 13 songwriting credits. The majority are love songs or lost love songs, and most of those come at the familiar George Strait pace.

Story songs like ‘I Got a Car’ and ‘You Don’t Know What You’re Missing’ stand out above the rest. The first is a classic circle-of-life Strait cut that will elicit a little chuckle and maybe a few teardrops toward the end. ‘You Don’t Know …’ is the next-to-last song, and it’s even more poignant. This is the story of one man telling another to quit complaining and realize the blessings he has in life. The message hits like a shot of whiskey.

‘Blue Melodies’ is another beautiful moment. The ballad is a Strait vocal showcase, and the 60-year-old singer proves he’s lost nothing. “I wonder if there’s such a thing / As a sad song that’s too sad to sing,” he sings on a song that becomes a heartbreaker. There is no shortage of blue on the album. The next cut is ‘I Just Can’t Go on Dying Like This,’ a similarly traditional arrangement.

The remaining songs aren’t as strong or creative lyrically or sonically. The tempo picks up on ‘I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing’ and ‘The Night Is Young,’ but neither feel like the icon’s 61st No. 1 hit. ‘I Believe’ is a strong ballad about faith — a rare moment of variety — and the message will leave many with goosebumps. The chorus blunts the impact, however.

‘Love Is Everything’ is hampered by a strong sameness. Strait and producer Tony Brown make little effort to reach out to a younger audience with creative arrangements, and many songs fail at standing out from the pack. After ‘Give It All We Got’ and one or two others, there’s just too much of what we’ve heard before — as good as that is.

3 Stars

Next: See George Strait Without His Famous Hat

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