Troubadour

He’s dominated the field for so long that it’s easy to forget there was a time in country music before George Strait . He has more number one singles than George Jones, Hank Williams, or Ray Price—in fact, he has more than any artist in any genre. So on album 37, Troubadour (MCA), what could Strait have left to prove? Maybe not much, but he’s a consummate professional who has stayed true to his country roots since his first hit, in 1981, and he’s not about to change now. Though Strait doesn’t write a lick, he has the ability, like all great singers, to make every song seem autobiographical. He favors soaring choruses and plain tales devoid of nuance. On the new album, this approach leads to a couple of way-too-obvious groaners (“House of Cash,” “When You’re in Love”) that remind you of someone overexplaining a joke. But mostly, Troubadour delivers. With warm, relaxed vocals, Strait inhabits the title track, “It Was Me,” “House With No Doors,” and “Make Her Fall in Love With Me Song” and marks them as his own. There’s absolutely no pretense here, which is why millions adore Strait’s music. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.

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