Is there anyone in country music more reliable than George Strait? It's hard to think of a competitor; the media-shy Texan has been turning out a steady stream of albums on an annual basis for many years, and while there have been some variations in quality, he has, all in all, amassed a track record of consistency second to none.
Strait's latest effort extends his winning streak, easily topping his last new release, "Always Never The Same." Strong material and winning arrangements are the key here, with the smoking backbeat of "Home Improvement" and a smashing Hank Cochran-Jimmy Key shuffle, "You're Stronger Than Me," leading the way. He shows a light touch with easygoing tunes like Jim Lauderdale's co-write, "Don't Make Me Come Over There And Love You" and Rodney Crowell's "The Night's Just Right For Love," but his renditions of darker tunes like "If It's Gonna Rain" and "Looking Out My Window Through The Pain" are equally effective. In fact, there's not a dud in the bunch, other than the curiously muddled story in "She Took The Wind From His Sails," and even there, the lush arrangement and Strait's restrained vocal almost overcome the song's weakness.
The bottom line: another fine album that, like most of its predecessors, wanders pleasingly from classic hard country stylings to no less classic pop-country ones.