There are a few things in earth that are constant: life, death, taxes, and George Strait. No matter what the current trends and fads on the radio may be, you can always count on George Strait releasing great country music that is easy to listen to and staunchly traditional. Cold Beer Conversation is no different. This surprise album from George topped the charts among some solid competition. It once again proves that being consistent and reliable is still marketable in country music.
If you were trying to rate the best George Strait song or albums of all time, not much from this would make the cut. That is not in any means a knock. George has just put out so much material that it is hard to crack the top 10 of his list. That being said, there are still some solid songs in this collection."Cold Beer Conversation", the title track, is a breezy barroom crooner that is vintage Strait. "Goin', Goin', Gone" is a rowdy honky-tonker that is drenched in steel guitar. "Everything I See" is a moving testament to a father who has passed away. As someone who recently lost my own father, this song moved me to tears upon first listen. George knows how to deliver these songs in such a way that you relate to every word. "It Takes All Kinds" is a old fashioned Western Swing number that will get your toes tapping. "Wish You Well" would have been a laid back radio hit in the mid 90's. "Even When I Can't Feel It" touches on George's faith and is another solid song. "Stop And Drink" is another beer drinking anthem that fits with the albums title. The only minor missteps on the album are the opener, "It Was Love" and the lead single, "Let It Go". "It Was Love" is a fine song, but it just feels like Strait trying fit in on radio with a soaring melody. It isn't bad, it just feels out of place on this album. "Let It Go" just feels silly. That being said, the two "worst" songs on this album are a million times better than the majority of country radio.
The two places that stuck out to me on this album find George sounding at his very best. "Take Me To Texas" is an ode to the Lone Star State that George has done a million times. But, the fact that George has retired back there and the intensity with which he delivers the lyrics make this one believable and heartfelt. I know that Texans don't like singing about anything more than they love singing about Texas, but when it's done this well, who can blame them? The other great song finds George teaming up with Jamey Johnson again. Jamey co-wrote George's smash hit "Give It Away" with Bill Anderson. Now George is covering Jamey's "Cheaper Than A Shrink". Joe Nichols previously covered this. This version also finds Jamey on the background vocals. This is a tear-in-my-beer honkytonker that sounds like it came straight out of some roadside shack jukebox in Tennessee. It is a silly song, but sometimes we need some silly songs to lift our spirits.
At this point, if George Strait releases music, just get it. You don't have to wait around for some review. If this guy puts out music, you can count on two things: it will be country, and it will be great. George Strait is called the King of Country for a reason. Cold Beer Conversation isn't his best work, but it proves that in his retirement from touring, George is still going to record real country music that matters. It's great to add another collection of Strait classics to my playlist. I strongly recommend this album; George Strait is the epitome of the phrase "Keep It Country, Kids."
Standout Tracks: "Take Me To Texas", "Cheaper Than A Shrink", 'Everything I See", "Cold Beer Conversation", 'It Takes All Kinds", "Goin', Goin', Gone"
"Take Me To Texas"
"Cold Beer Conversation"
"Everything I See"