Saturday, July 10, 2010

George Strait: Honkeytonkville (2003)

(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )

George Strait
(MCA Nashville)

By selecting songs devoted to the honky-tonk verities (loneliness, abandonment, drinking, redemption), Strait has made a twenty-fifth career album far stronger than anyone should’ve expected. Amid little more than fiddle, steel guitar, and piano, his voice shines like the solid vehicle of traditional country expression that it is. And if his singing is too pure to merit comparisons with the singing of George Jones and Merle Haggard, it nevertheless cuts a neat swath through the oil slick of unctuous vocalisms currently spreading throughout the country chart’s upper regions. Granted, he sustains his tone for only the first seven cuts, sinking during the last five into romantic goop as if humankind can only handle so much reality. But from “She Used to Say That to Me” to “I Found Jesus on the Jailhouse Floor,” he earns his Stetson. Rating: Three-and-a-half oversized belt buckles out of five.

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