Cold Beer Conversation
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
George Strait has released a new album that is consistently good, with strong vocal performances that elevate even the middling material.
Cold Beer Conversation is Strait’s 29th studio album, and it follows the template that he switched to a few years ago as his albums moved away from a yearly release cycle. Thirteen songs, with a handful of them co-written by Strait and his son, Bubba. Enough to tide his fans over until the next one, but nothing in particular that would expand his listening base.
That being said, the album is very listenable, and has a couple of tracks that are worthy of inclusion in any Strait best-of collection. The very best is one of those George and Bubba co-writes, “Everything I See.” It is a powerful tribute to his late father, where he shares the wish that he’d slipped a cell phone in his suit before they laid him in the ground, just so he could send him updates from down here.
It’s classic Strait: touching without being cloying, tinged with melancholy but laced with optimism. If you’re like me and think that “You’ll Be There” is his best single this century, download “Everything I See,” even if you pass on the whole album this time around.
Other highlights include lead single, “Let it Go,” which manages to capture the spirit of the best Jimmy Buffett songs, rather than just capturing the sound. The title track is a solid barroom anthem, as are “Cheaper Than a Shrink” and “Stop and Drink.”
I also found “Rock Paper Scissors” to be a creative and amusing breakup number, though his delivery borrows a little too heavily from “Give it Away” for it to stand up on its own right.
The rest of the album is carried mostly by Strait’s sophistication and maturity as a vocalist. The lyrics aren’t always interesting or well-crafted, but he’s such a great singer that he leaves you thinking, “Well, it must be substantial because listen to how he’s singing it.”
I’m still waiting for him to make one truly great album where he has to rise to the challenge of the material, rather than relying on his own skills to elevate much of it. I know he’s got it in him. Maybe next time out?
Recommended Tracks: “Everything I See,” “Let it Go,” “Cheaper Than a Shrink”
Great review. This was my 19th straight year of picking up a GS album on the day of release, and I was yet again not disappointed.
“Everything I See” is perhaps my favorite as well. The mentions of phones and clouds is a bit clunky for my tastes, but it works, and that to me is a real testament to the greatness of that song.
“Goin’, Goin’, Gone” is a lot of fun. I know a lot of people don’t like those dubbed in singalongs like the one at the end of this song, but it really contributes to the mood.
And his vocal performance was second to none on the whole album. I can’t quite explain what it was —after all, he’s never sounded bad — but he really nailed it this time around.
I lost my dad earlier this year and “Everything I See” just wrecked me the first time I heard it. Instant classic, though it’s probably going to be a while before I can bring myself to listen to it again.
Does anyone know when the Apple/Wal-Mart exclusivity window ends? I don’t really feel like supporting Wal-Mart and as an Android user I would prefer to be able to buy the album digitally from Google or Amazon since its much easier to listen to it that way.
I agree that Strait’s voice is sounding as good and maybe even better than ever.
I enjoy this album a lot and I’m so glad he’s making albums even if he’s not touring anymore!
I’m so sorry about your dad.
I was taking a friend to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop this afternoon and almost missed it because the sign read “George Strait, Strait from Texas Store”. Beside the new album, the store was full of GS t-shirts, sweat shirt shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses, etc. On a little stage in the rear of the store, customers were encouraged to have their picture taken next to a cardboard cutout of the king. It’s part of a 10 day GS promotion. Guess the old man is still popular in Nashville.
Condolences to Andrew.
Mike W.: You can get the new album at Strait’s website also.
As much as I like certain songs I just can’t get into Strait. I’m a huge Garth fan and found his music through Garth, but I just can’t get in to his voice/delivery.
Somehow I am always disappointed with George’s albums. Not because they are bad albums, that is never the case, but because he has yet to give in to his muse and produce that great western swing album we all know is capable of producing. I want more steel and twin fiddles from George and one of these days, when he quits chasing hit singles, he might oblige
Almost all of George Strait’s albums and singles fall in the good to very good range with rarely anything great.
@Paul – if you like Western Swing, you might like the Western Swing Authority, a Canadian group. They’ve released 3 albums since August of 2010.