This is the strongest album Reba McEntire has released in more than twenty years.
Listening to Love Somebody is hearing a legend of the genre rediscover her own voice. She’s always been an excellent singer, but after making her name as both a heartbreak queen and the common folk’s Everywoman, she had tremendous difficulty navigating the post-Shania Twain landscape of female empowerment anthems.
Actively writing single reviews again has me also looking at the radio charts again. What a bleak landscape of interchangeable singers and songs! I can’t remember things ever being this generic and bland. We flirted with it back in the Kellie Coffey days, but the bottom didn’t fall out.
Today, is there even a bottom? An old friend of mine listened to country radio for the first time in presumably years and asked, “Am I crazy, or is everyone getting drunk on country radio?”
He’s not crazy. What can we do to fix this?
Today’s Top Five asks: What five songs would you immediately put in heavy rotation on country radio?
They can already be singles, or could be unreleased songs that you think should be singles, but they should be current enough to be featured on an artist’s most recent album.
Here’s my top five:
- Old Crow Medicine Show, “Mean Enough World”
- Trisha Yearwood, “You Can’t Trust the Weatherman”
- Jason Isbell, “Songs that She Sang in the Shower”
- Nickel Creek, “You Don’t Know What’s Going On”
- Reba McEntire, “Just Like Them Horses”
Following up on yesterday’s post, Reba McEntire is the other legend that streeted a new album last week. As good a time as any to ask: What are your five favorite Reba McEntire albums and tracks?
Here are my picks:
- For My Broken Heart
- Rumor Has it
- What if it’s You
- Whoever’s in New England
- My Kind of Country
- The Fear of Being Alone
- If I Had Only Known
- The Greatest Man I Never Knew
- Fallin’ Out of Love
- Consider Me Gone
Today’s a fairly big release day for long time country music fans, as two legends release sets today: Reba McEntire, who returns after five years with Love Somebody, and Dwight Yoakam, who is back with Second Hand Heart, which is only his second album of new material in the last ten years.
We’ve already review the lead Reba single and lead Dwight single. We’ll have reviews up of both albums at a later date, but they influenced today’s Daily Top Five: What are your most recent purchases?
I’m still an albums guy, so I’m going to list my most recent five albums purchased, but feel free to list tracks instead, if you’re more the a la carte type.
My five most recent (country) album purchases are:
- Shelby Lynne, Temptation
- Shania Twain, Still the One: Live From Vegas
- Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow is My Turn
- Punch Brothers, The Phosphorescent Blues
- Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch
You can read the CU reviews of Giddens here, and Punch Brothers here, and there’s a good chance you’ll be reading about the Lynne set when we finish our 1993 lists. Also, a great Starter Kit for Jason Isbell can be read here. (Start with Southeastern, if you don’t have it already, before moving on to Sirens and the rest of his catalog. You should have all of his catalog. He’s that good.)
What are your five latest country purchases?
Today, we kick off a new feature: Daily Top Five. Every day, one of our writers will post their top five picks for a given category, and invite readers to share their own lists in the comments. This idea was
ripped off from inspired by the film Top Five.
Since this is the first entry, today’s topic is First Favorites – your top five songs that got you into country music.
- John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
- Reba McEntire, “For My Broken Heart”
- Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
- Pam Tillis, “Maybe it Was Memphis”
- Dwight Yoakam, “It Only Hurts When I Cry”
What’s your top five?
“Kiss You in the Morning”
Written by Larry Michael White and Justin Tyler Wilson
Launching a new artist with this generic a single does a tremendous disservice to their budding career.
“Kiss You in the Morning” sounds exactly like everything else on the radio. It covers the most well-trodden lyrical ground in today’s country music. Ray’s a decent enough singer and the production is controlled, so it’s not memorable for being bad. Trouble is, it’s not really memorable at all.
“I Got the Boy”
Written by Connie Harrington, Tim Nichols, and Jamie Lynn Spears
The sentiment is quite poignant. “I got the boy. She got the man.” A high school sweetheart reminisces as she sees her boyfriend from back then has gotten married.
The writers establish some wonderful specifics in the verses that help to bring the characters to life. But the chorus is bland both lyrically and melodically, so the payoff from the buildup isn’t there.
“Better Than You Left Me”
Written by Mickey Guyton, Jennifer Hanson, and Jenn Schott
This is pretty much how a country ballad is supposed to sound, as far as I’m concerned. Nothing says heartache like a steel guitar, and if you’re going to sing with vulnerability, it’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is show up with a decent lyric, not let the production get in the way, sing the song well, and you’re done.
“Going Out Like That”
Written by Rhett Akins, Ben Haslip, and Jason Sellers
Reba McEntire is one of the genre’s all-time greatest storytellers. Her best material captures both the strength and vulnerability of the everyday woman, and “Going Out Like That” fits in well with her legacy of songs that are empowering without sacrificing believability.
McEntire is also one of the genre’s all-time greatest stylists, and that’s where her new single falls short. The song is delivered in mostly a monotone, with few of her signature curlicues. She just never gets out of the starting gate for some reason. The song doesn’t require it to be effective, but a little more variety would’ve been nice.
UPDATE: Contest closed. Congratulations to winner John!
Three of my all-time favorite things: books, country music, and books about country music. If you’re anything like me, we have the perfect giveaway for you.
In Gerry House’s new book Country Music Broke My Brain: A Behind-the-Microphone Peek at Nashville’s Famous & Fabulous Stars, one of country music’s most beloved radio personalities shares a collection of never-aired and never-before-published conversations with a variety of country music superstars and legends, including Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, and many others.
Country Universe is pleased to offer a copy of this book to give away to one of our readers. To enter, leave a comment below before 12:00 p.m. CST on Saturday March 15. A winner will be chosen via random number generator and notified via email, so be sure to include a valid email address. One entry is allowed per IP address.