Album Review: George Strait – Troubadour

Brady Vercher | April 3rd, 2008

George Strait - Troubadour George Strait has a knack for choosing the right songs, which has helped him remain a constant on the charts over the past twenty seven years, so it’s hard not to jump on his bandwagon and praise everything he does. His twenty-fifth studio album, Troubadour, no doubt contains some strong singles and has him stretching his artistic wings when compared to his recent efforts, but a few song choices keep the album from being better than slightly above average.

Vince Gill joins in on the title track, lending background vocals as Strait sings about being an old troubadour while reflecting on his younger days and knowing he’ll always be the same–until he’s gone. It’s an introspective look at his career and what’s to come and seemingly raises the question, “What will country music be without George Strait?”

“It Was Me” follows and sounds like a typical Strait song, and although it’s slightly reminiscent of Brad Paisley’s “We Danced,” it’s enjoyable. Kenny Chesney would be proud of the next couple of songs; “Brothers Of The Highway” bluntly drops a pirate ship in the middle of the chorus and “River of Love” has an island vibe going on. Along with the overwrought and rehashed “Give Me More Time,” these three are among the weaker tracks on the album.

“House of Cash” is a duet with Patty Loveless about the burning of Johnny and June’s house and while sonically pleasing, the lyric comes off as a little too contrived. Following “House of Cash” are four of the strongest songs on Troubadour: “When You’re In Love,” “Make Her Fall In Love With Me,” “West Texas Town,” and “House With No Doors.”

“Make Her Fall In Love With Me” is a toe tappin’ little ditty that sets up the western swing duet, “West Texas Town”, with Dean Dillon that was written by Robert Earl Keen and Dillon. It’s a great track that’s impossible not to enjoy if you like King George and it’s surprising that Ray Benson’s name isn’t somewhere in the credits.

Perhaps the strongest song on the album is “House With No Doors,” penned by Kacey Coppola, Kate Coppola, and Jamey Johnson. Strait tries to convince a man with a heartache that he can’t build a house with no doors to keep a woman who doesn’t love him, as he sings “And if there ain’t one, she’ll make one / Either way, she’ll run / And leave you a house with a hole for a door.” The album closes with “If Heartaches Were Horses,” a song that laments the prevalence of heartaches and hard times, spun into a western theme while painting some great imagery.

Overall, George Strait delivers what his fans have come to expect from him on Troubadour and other than a couple of songs, it’s a solid album that should garner him a few more number ones and thankfully delays the answer to the question, “What would country music be without George Strait?”

3.5 Stars

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  1. Brody Vercher
    April 3, 2008 at 7:35 am

    “What would country music be without George Strait?”

    Straitless?

    I thought “River of Love” was abysmal, but enjoyed the album a lot.

  2. Baron Lane
    April 3, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Brody, I agree. Whatever Jimmy Buffett virus is going around country music I hope there’s a cure soon.

  3. Ronrico
    April 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

    So, ya give it a 3.5 instead of a 4 just to spite me? That’s cool I reckon dawg.

  4. Pierce
    April 3, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I whole-heartedly agree with this review. Great job. “House with No Doors” is classic Strait. Jamey Johnson is on fire with the material he’s been writing recently, and I’d love to hear his version as well.

    I also have a question about the last track. The lyrics go “If heartaches were horses, and hard times were cattle/I’d ride home at sunset sittin tall in the saddle/If heartaches were horses and hard times were cattle”

    Obviously Strait gives it a melancholy vocal, but something throws me off. If you are in control of the horse, and are controlling the cattle, wouldn’t that mean you are in control of heartaches and hard times? The verses indicate that this person isn’t in control and their lover is leaving them… I’m experiencing a disconnect somewhere in there.

  5. Brady Vercher
    April 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Ronrico, naw, I didn’t give it a 3.5 to spite you, I just figured it wasn’t quite up to par for a 4, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    Pierce, I had to the same problem with “If Heartaches Were Horses,” but I think it’s more along the lines that if cattle and horses were as prevalent as the heartaches and hard times he’s experiencing, then he’d be able to sit tall in the saddle, knowing he’s well off. I don’t think it’s about being in control. At least that’s how I chose to interpret it.

  6. Chris N.
    April 3, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I think the operative word is “If.” Like heartaches and hard times aren’t cattle and horses, therefore he has no control over them.

  7. Brady Vercher
    April 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Ok, I see it from the being in control perspective now and either way seems to make sense.

  8. ccf
    April 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    The cd is okay. I’ve been a fan of GS for over 22 years. As with his cds of the last 10-12 years. I miss the old George. Were I like each track. This has 4 plus tracks I’m not impressed with. Maybe after more listens I can warm up to them.

  9. Austin
    April 4, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Anyone else notice the simple designs for his album covers recently?

  10. Robert W.
    April 6, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Ok not to be offensive or anything but you must have only listened to this album once all the way through? I mean lets be serious here the song “when your in love” is not one of the strongest tracks on this album, if anything it’s the weakest due to the whole “island” theme.Oh and further more the whole “lets complain about kenny chesney” needs to stop cause he’s slowly coming back to traditional music just give it time! But to continue my thoughts on the Strait album you completely forgot about “troubador” which is one of the strongest tracks on this album! Also “river of love” is not so much an island theme as it is a calypso (forgive the spelling)which is more of a new orleans type theme so the “island” argument isn’t justified. Again this is my opinion, and I mean no offense but this album deserves more than just one listen it deserves at least 5 or 6 before writing a truthful review!

  11. Brady Vercher
    April 6, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Robert, I listened to the album multiple times before ever writing a word and a few more times while writing the review. I went back and listened to the songs in question again and I stand by what I wrote in the review. I support your right to perceive the songs how you want, but I gotta disagree with your take on the three you mentioned. “Troubadour” makes for a good listen, but what is the significance of it? He basically states that he’s a troubadour and that’s about it.

  12. ccf
    April 6, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    I have to agree with the 3 1/2 star rating. I probably would only give it 3 stars.

  13. plain_jo
    April 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Really liked the album, Troubador is my favorite track. Brothers of the Highway, If Heartaches Were Horses, and House with no Doors, are also favs. I like, House of Cash, too but something throws me off ….”and the ring of fire comes full circle and the ring of fire goes all the way around” I am always waiting for the “shoe to drop” it feels incomplete.
    Side Note: Saw Strait in March still puts on an amazing show, He played a Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line in the encore as well as Folsom Prison Blues.

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