"Love Is Everything" is george Strait's 28th studio album over his 30+ year career.
Since he began churning out country hits in 1981 George has cultivated a kind of stoic dependability unmatched among his peers. His perfectly crafted songs may recount overwhelming experiences, but he never sounds overwhelmed himself.
Or at least he hasn't until now. On "Love Is Everything," his stirring new album, George's stiff upper lip begins ever so slightly to tremble, a sign perhaps that the deceleration of his decades-long career is taking (or reflects) a heavier psychological toll.
"I do what my heart says do," he admits in "I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing," one of several tunes on the album about honouring one's emotions. The next song, "That's What Breaking Hearts Do," describes how hard it is to "try to erase that lonely look on your face."
In fact, that used to be easy for Strait, whose singing transmitted the equanimity of a grandfather long before he became one. Here, though, the 60-year-old's vocals feel newly vulnerable, particularly in ballads like "Blue Melodies," a sad song about the value of sad songs, and the gorgeous "I Just Can't Go On Dying Like This," which Strait wrote back in the mid '70s when he was fronting his pre-solo Ace in the Hole Band.
He's putting more of himself in the music, too, a notable shift for an artist whose continued reliance on the Nashville songwriting machine has often seemed like an effort to deflect interest in the details of his private life.
- from Mikael Wood's review in the Los Angeles Times
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