January 21, 2010
I had such a negative reaction to “Strange” that it kept me away from the new Reba McEntire album at first. So imagine my surprise when the second single from Keep On Lovin’ You, “Consider Me Gone”, turned out to be my favorite single from her in thirteen years.
Everything that “Strange” wasn’t, “Consider Me Gone” was: introspective, self-assured, fully believable and completely adult. It left me more receptive to McEntire’s music than I have been in a long time, so I eagerly dived in to the title track, which is now the latest single.
While it doesn’t approach the perfection of “Consider Me Gone”, I must say that it’s still a good deal better than the bulk of this legend’s output. It’s really unfair to compare her to the newer acts that dominate the radio. Among the women, only Carrie Underwood is in her league as a vocalist, and she doesn’t have the extra thirty years of life experience to draw upon that Reba does.
That’s why Carrie Underwood makes great music that expresses the twenty-something experience. We need Reba to do the same for the fifty-somethings. When she makes age-appropriate music, she sounds awesome. “I Keep On Lovin’ You” is in that vein, a solid anniversary song that is clearly about a relationship that has already weathered several storms, and even though more are on the horizon, these two mates will keep sailing together.
It’s held back only by a slightly too-slow pace and fairly bland melody, which would be far more noticeable in the hands of a less proficient singer. The production is subtle, almost completely stripped down at first. Thankfully, there is a warm steel guitar that keeps this one out of coffeehouse folkie territory. And when her voice begins to soar toward the end, those good, old-fashioned “Somebody Should Leave” goosebumps come rushing in.
Written by Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride
Listen: I Keep On Lovin’ You