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George Strait

Cold Beer Conversation – 2015 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by George Strait

recording front. This surprise release shows an artist now in his early 60s completely capable of being the leading voice for his brand of country music, which is increasingly rare these days.

Strait always has enjoyed a voice that resonates and is dexterous depending on the style. And the Texan sticks with the types of styles that brought him to the top - traditional country ("Let It Go," "Goin' Goin' Gone"), Texas swing ("It Takes All Kinds") and Zydeco ("Stop and Drink"). Ballads or uptempo, Strait can do it all.

Strait certainly benefits from having a slew of top-notch material with a lot of songs about loss (the harder punching "Rock Paper Scissors," ""Wish You Well"). He scores as well on the playful "Cheaper Than a Shrink," a Bill Anderson composition about a recurring theme here - drinking. Hit makers Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally contributed "Take Me To Texas," while some other Strait staples like Keith Gattis and Dean Dillon penned songs.

Strait may have come very late to the table in putting his own songs on his album, but he's back with three more he wrote with son Bubba and others. One wonders why Strait took so long to concentrate more on his own material given the top shelf quality of "Let It Go," "It Takes All Kinds" and "Everything I See." There's a lot of thoughtful writing in these songs, including "To think a man who led such a simple life could leave behind so much" about the death of a friend in "Everything I see" with Dillon and Gattis helping write the ballad.

Strait is not an artist to stick his finger in the air to determine what's au courant in country. He doesn't seem to live up to the words in the title track where he sings of "Trying to find our place in this crazy old world." Strait seemingly has always known exactly who he is - a traditional Texas country singer. With ultra high quality outings like this, end of conversation.