Finding a “Martina McBride” among the class of mainstream country artists is rare. When she’s on her game, she effortlessly balances relevance and reverence with timeless material.
That’s why it’s so frustrating to see her dip from this standard, as she does on the lukewarm “I Just Call You Mine.” It’s pleasant and effective, and McBride’s soaring vocals are flawless, even tastefully soaring a little less than usual. But as her signature power ballads go, this one falls just a tad short of stirring emotion.
In theory, I empathize with the subject: most of us know someone, romantic partner or otherwise, who exemplifies the “good” in the human spirit, someone so uniquely special that you’re honored to have him or her in your life. But it’s a tricky thing to realistically describe without feeling weighted down with grandiose professions, and this is especially true when the backdrop is a swelling and not entirely original melody. Perhaps the song would be more interesting if we were given some context: what, specifically, makes this person “a standing ovation after years of waiting”?
To McBride’s credit, she possesses the natural ability of infusing her music with conviction, which compensates a bit for the vagueness of “I Just Call You Mine.” I’ve always been a sucker for great delivery, even when a song lacks lyrical complexity, so I do recognize that the value in this song rests in her impassioned delivery. Few current mainstream country artists have McBride’s potent combination of superior techn
ical proficiency and sincere conviction.
But that brings it full circle – few country artists are “limitless” as McBride has proven to be time and time in the past, and in turn, I expect more from her than a mediocre song like this one.
Written by Jess Cates, Ty Lacy, and Dennis Matkosky
Listen: I Just Call You Mine