Friday, April 11, 2008

CD Review - George Strait (Troubadour)

I rarely buy new music, except for mp3 downloads of single songs. The reason that I don't buy much new music is because I've gotten very picky in my old middle age.

I've been burned too many times. Haven't you?

So, now I kind of stick with the
old middle-aged standbys.

One artist I always buy is George Strait. Not only is he my favorite country singer, but it's now turned into some kind of quest. I feel that I need to own all of George's CD's, in order to say that I have a complete collection. Okay, I am starting to draw the line at all the "Number Ones" CD's, because that's just replicating stuff I already own, and I'm not rich, you know.

This week, I received George's latest, "Troubadour" in the mail from Amazon. I listened to it tonight.

To be honest, George's recent CD's haven't ranked among my favorites. After all these years of buying his music, I kind of know the drill. He has a certain number of "middle-of-the-road" songs, sometimes far too many!

If I'm lucky, he includes a few of what I call "country" songs. Not always. But usually.

For instance, on George's last CD, "It Just Comes Natural", there was a plethora of those middle-of-the-road songs, and one GREAT song, "Come On Joe". I would have been sorely disappointed in that CD, except that that one song more than made up for all the clinkers.

So, I didn't know what to expect with the new one.

Well, it didn't start out well.

The opening track, "Troubadour", is okay. Nothing special. It talks about getting
old middle-aged. Not my favorite topic, but okay. The reality is what it is. George is only a couple years older than me (in fact, his birthday is one day before mine).

Then there is a generic romance song, "It Was Me". Again , okay, but kind of corny.

Then the requisite truck driver song, "Brothers Of The Highway".

The next track is apparently a single released to radio, "River Of Love". Kind of weak. Certainly not one I would choose to release as a single, but, as you know, I don't listen to country radio, so what do I know?

Track 5 is a duet with Patty Loveless, "House Of Cash". I like this one. It's a bit "harder" than the types of songs that George generally does. He should do more of these. Of course, Patty's vocals add a lot to the song. The song is about, in essence, Johnny Cash's house burning down.

Track 6 is another radio-released single, "I Saw God Today". Another message song. No offense, George, but I'm not big on message songs. It's sweet enough, for what it is. I just don't buy into the intentional "tug at the heartstrings" songs. They just seem so contrived to me. (personal preference, I admit).

"Give Me More Time" is better. Another "message song", but at least this one says something in an honest way.

I have totally forgotten "When You're In Love". To be honest, I think I sort of skipped over this one, after hearing the first verse. It just didn't do anything for me.

By now, I'm thinking, well, there you go. Another CD to add to the collection, but nothing to write home about. By any means.

Then George threw a bit of a curve.

Starting with Track 9, this suddenly turned into a "country" CD.

"Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song" is pure honky tonk country. Probably my favorite song on the entire CD.

But the good ones continue with, "West Texas Town", a duet with Dean Dillon, who also co-wrote the song. Nice touch having the songwriter duet with the singer. This is kind of a Western Swing-type number.

"House With No Doors" is an interesting song. I listened to the whole song, just to see where it was going.

The last track, "If Heartaches Were Horses" is a nice one as well. It's done in waltz-time, and I'm kind of a sucker for 3/4 time songs, so maybe that made me like it more than it deserves. I don't know, but I think it's a decent song.

So, there you have it. One half good CD, one half "eh".

There is no "Come On Joe" on this one, but it's not the worst George Strait CD I've ever heard. Not the best, but not the worst.

I'll rate it a "B-".

I guess a B- from George is still far superior than any CD by most any other artist, except for Dwight Yoakam, who consistently rates an "A" or an "A+".

So, which CD's by George are better?

There are quite a few, actually.

My favorites are these (in no particular order):

Beyond The Blue Neon
Easy Come, Easy Go
Livin' It Up
Pure Country

One note about George Strait videos: Most of the good ones are not embeddable. Another decision by MCA, no doubt, but I don't really get the reasoning behind that. It's not like too many people are going to go out and buy videos. Some people maybe. Not me. I guess, too, that one can download videos from iTunes or whatever. I don't really feel like buying videos. Cuz they are what they are. They're a bit different from mp3's of songs. You're not going to watch videos over and over. Unless you're a bit of a fanatic.

So, the record companies need to lighten up a bit about allowing music videos to be embedded.

I'm just saying.

It's called good PR.

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