CD Review of Troubadour by George Strait
Recommended if you like
Real country music
Label
MCA Nashville
George Strait: Troubadour

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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A
quick dictionary search of the word reveals a “troubadour” is a medieval lyric poet who wrote on themes of courtly love, a wandering singer or minstrel, for hire or not. Somehow, I’m always inclined to add “badass” to my own definition of troubadour. Steve Earle sang of a “Hard-Core Troubadour” on 1996’s I Feel Alright: “Girl, better figure out which is which, wherefore are thou Romeo you son of a bitch.” Steve Earle is a troubadour. Billy Ray Cyrus is not. George Strait, with 38 hit albums (third to only Elvis and the Beatles), 55 career #1 singles, and more than 62 million records sold, is a troubadour. While country music has surrendered its soul to wannabes like Bon Jovi and Richard Marx-like pop stars such as Bucky Covington and Rascal Flatts, King George plods along through his 30th year of hit-making – and I mean relevant, real country hit making!

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.

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