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Reviewed by Red Rocker
Hard to believe the guy is only 55 years old, and he’s showing no signs of retirement whatsoever. Troubadour arrives just 18 months after the hugely successful It Just Comes Natural, which spawned two more #1 singles, causing Strait to rethink his 50 Number Ones greatest hits package from five years ago. The 12 new compositions are as scruffy and authentic as anything he’s done. Hard-luck ballads like “Give Me More Time” and “If Heartaches Were Horses” fit seamlessly into Strait’s back catalog, and continue to carry the old-school country music torch another mile or so. The first single, “I Saw God Today,” is neither preachy nor controversial, just the simple tale of the sheer joy that comes when a new father brings his baby girl into the world. It debuted at #19 on the Billboard singles chart, surprisingly the highest debut Strait has enjoyed from a single.
The rollicking sing-along “Brothers of the Highway” shows that the second coming of Elvis can still flex his muscle and deliver a high-octane scorcher. “House of Cash” is a slow-burning duet with Patty Loveless which tips a ten-gallon to the great Johnny Cash and the tragic fire that destroyed his Tennessee estate following his death. “No one sleeps in Cash’s bed, ‘cept the man in black and the woman he wed,” narrates Strait, who was among Cash’s favorite artists during his final years on Earth. As the hit-making machine that is George Strait chugs on, anyone who thinks the vintage country class that Cash and his brothers built is just a vapor trail will have their hope renewed by Troubadour. It’s a classic country album in an age of plastic American Idols and two-year shelf lives.