Album Reviews: Martina McBride and “Live at Texas Stadium”
I saved reviews of the week’s two best releases for last.
“Everybody Does” and “Cry Cry (Til The Sun Shines)” are typical Martina “if you fall, get back up again” anthems, but other tracks on the album have more attitude. “If I Had Your Name” never develops beyond the hook (“If I had your name, I’d be changing it by now”) but makes for an enjoyable, spunky album opener. “Tryin’ to Find a Reason” is the stark self-examination of a woman mired in a troubled relationship. “House of a Thousand Dreams” is the moving narrative of a family that perseveres despite economic hardship, told in succession from the perspectives of the hard-working father, his faithful wife and their gracious son.
Martina possesses puzzling ability to make profoundly dark subjects seem positive and radio-friendly, but “Beautiful Again,” with instrumentation that seems much too bright for a song about sexual abuse, may be the oddest example yet. The final track and highlight of the album “Love Land,” is built around the familiar story of a young and foolish couple that marries too early but makes it anyway. However, the writing and delivery are sufficiently strong to make this re-tread song an enjoyable listen that could prove a radio hit.
The album opens with Strait’s “Honk if You Honky Tonk,” a song that barely cracked the top-50 but was George’s current single at the time of the recording. Jackson joins Strait for “Murder on Music Row,” and Strait and Jackson are such pure vocalists and the band is so tight that it practically sounds like a studio recording.
Things loosen up when Buffett completes the trio. “Margaritaville” is the album’s only disappointment, as Buffett engages in goofy lyrical transpositions and his backup vocalists add a ridiculous and annoying chant of “salt, salt.”
However, the album is a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. George Strait sounds liberated as he navigates a unique playlist without such standards as “Amarillo by Morning.” Jackson, a notoriously stoic performer, loosens up as he closes the show with a locally-flavored rendition of “Where I Come From.”
The concert’s best cuts are the unexpected ones. Buffett and Jackson collaborate on a wholesome cover of Guy Clark’s “Boats to Build.” Jackson and Strait’s “Designated Drinker” proves that some of their best music barely charted. A bluegrass-tinged “Seven Bridges Road” vies with the trio’s rendition of “Hey Good Lookin’” for the honor of the show’s highlight.
- bob: Thanks Barry. Just reserved the Adam Gussow book. Sounds interesting.
- Barry Mazor: It may be over-stated, in arriving at practically a single explanation of everything, but Adam Gussow's book on lynching and …
- Leeann: Wow! Heavy topic and horrifying indeed! "Beer for My Horses" was all fun and games until that reference, I'll have …
- Barry Mazor: Everything else aside, the way that reporter fills us in, with must-have, pointless generational snark included, about who this "Little …
- luckyoldsun: "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" seems to be about a lynching--even if there's something about a judge …
- Arlene: Sorry. I meant to give the link for "Supper Time." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ58Kfe41kI
- Arlene: Another song sung by Ethel Waters: Irving Berlin's "Supper Time"
- bob: Powerful songs. I read the book "A Lynching in the Heartland" by James H. Madison about a dozen years ago. …
- Ron: Sky Above, Mud Below by Tom Russell is another.
- Jack Williams: Another Othis Taylor song from White African is "My Soul's in Louisiana."