Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
George Strait may have reached his seventh decade, but he shows zero signs of slowing down. In fact, Strait seems to be getting even more consistent as he gets older. Strait doesn't stray all that far from the formula that has resulted in superstar status.
First and foremost, that means his sonorous voice is mixed far above the music, a very good thing. He is comfortable on everything including hard core country (pedal steel, fiddle and mandolin are not tacked on afterthoughts with Strait), ballads (the excellent weeper Blue Melodies with more pedal steel than most country albums total) and upbeat songs (the bouncy The Night Is Young with pedal steel and horns punctuating the song), ensuring that the pace will be moving and shifting and never just settling in.
No doubt due to his status as a steady hit maker, Strait has a slew of excellent songs that fit his style to a T. Strait accentuates the positives of life's abundances and stop the complaining in You Don't Know What You're Missing from Chris Stapleton and Al Anderson. Any number of songs could be hit singles, and that would not be a situation where Strait could be accused of going commercial.
Not to mention such ace studio vets as Eddie Bayers on drums and Paul Franklin on steel guitar. While sometimes studio musicians can be accused of sucking the life out of a song, that is most definitely not the case here.
And like his last few albums, the songwriter in Strait has finally come out. Strait wrote the very fine ballad I Just Can't Go On Dying Like This himself. He once gain enlists his son Bubba and long-time songwriting ace Dean Dillon on two other songs. They score big time on the heartfelt I Believe about the Sandy Hook tragedy. Despite the despair, Strait maintains optimism: "There's broken hearts that'll never beat the same / Shattered lives still reeling from the pain
Of plans and dreams now gone 'Oh, how do you move on? / But I believe
There's someone who's looking after me / Someone beside me night and day /To light the way / It's hard to conceive /Something you can't see /But I believe." With quality material he writes, it's better late than never for Strait to showcase even more of his skills.
George Strait continues to age very well.