The great George Strait is back with a new album, Love Is Everything. There are few things that are certain in life. Death, taxes, and every few years George Strait will release a straight up country album full of great songs. George has once again proven this to be true. Love Is Everything is everything you would expect from Strait, but still feels fresh and current, as he always does.
Right off the bat, George comes strong with "I Got A Car". The song is an introspective look at the journey of a relationship through a man and his car. George shows you can have songs about vehicles that can have a cool story and a little heart, rather than just bragging about your toys. Kudos to George for keeping current with modern trends, but keeping it grounded and authentic. That's the work of a true master. He follows that idea right in to the first single, "Give It All We Got Tonight". It's a summer nights anthem, but with fiddle, steel, and George Strait charm like only he can pull off. I think it is so cool that George can modify his sound to stay with the in crowd, and stay true to himself. "Give It All We Got Tonight" sounds very 2013 mainstream country, but it also sounds like it could have fit right in on one of George's first few records. That is so hard to do, and he does it time and time again.
George hearkens back to some old school soul with the beautiful "Blue Melodies", a somber heartbreaker, and the ballad "I Just Can't Go On Dying Like This", which sounds like it was stolen from a George Jones record. George has a spot in his voice he can hit that just oozes country ache, and he finds it in both of these songs. He goes a little more modern retro with "Sittin' On The Fence", a song about a man confused in love. This sounds like mid 90's George, and yet could still be a big hit today. The mid-tempo groove is pure joy to listen to.
Strait can keep the mood light as well. The infectious "I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing" would be corny with any other singer, but George nails it. "The Night Is Young" is not my favorite on the album by any means, but it is a solid quitting time country jammer. It's hard not to like anything George does. The title track is a simple song with surprising depth that is very enjoyable as well. "That's What Breaking Hearts Do" has a great sing-along melody, and sounds much more modern than anything George has done before. It puts me in mind of "I'll Be Watching You" by The Police. The melodies are very similar, but George delivers it like only he can.
"When The Credits Roll" is another solid song about looking back at your life, which George can do now as he plans retirement. "You Don't Know What You're Missing" is basically "I Hate Everything" part II, but I loved that song so I love this one as well. Perhaps the biggest surprise on the album is "I Believe". The song was co-written by George, his son Bubba, and frequent co-writer Dean Dillon. George co-wrote 4 songs on this album, a big deal considering he rarely writes. He is doing it more in his later years, and I praise him for it. But "I Believe" is a hopeful but somber look at the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT in December of last year. George never states it directly, but discusses "26 reasons to cry" and "26 new angels", referring presumably to the 26 children and teachers murdered that sad day. George is not one to inject himself in national talking points or political debate. The soft spoken George does an admiral job here, however. While both sides look to blame guns, praise guns, and make everything political, George reminds us what is important: we lost innocent lives that day, but God is still here watching out for us, so we must keep the faith. Well done George.
George Strait continues to be country music's national leader in the 21st century. He is still topping the charts, putting out great music, and reminding us what country music is all about and what it stands for. If you love country music, go buy Love Is Everything and crank it up. Better yet, anytime George Strait releases anything, just get it. It has always been and will always be solid country gold. Way to keep it country, King George! Now git yer ass outta here!
Stand-out Tracks: "I Got A Car", "Blue Melodies", "I Believe", "Give It All We Got Tonight", "Sittin' On The Fence"
"Give It All We Got Tonight" Live at the 2013 ACM Awards