McEntire returns with first country album in four years
Stone. Cold. Country. Those three words describe Reba McEntire’s new album Stronger Than The Truth to the core. The album is a throwback to her Oklahoma roots with traditional country arrangements about heartbreak and healing. This is her most traditional album in years and doesn’t include any modern day programming, and should get quite a bit of attention because of it.
Truth is her first country album since 2015’s pop-flavored Love Somebody that was full of versatility with hip hop beats and rock overtones. Truth showcases McEntire’s soaring vocals with storytelling abilities. Songs such as “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain,” about a love gone wrong, and “Cactus In A Coffee Can,” where the narrator meets a woman who tells her story of being reunited with her birth mom right before she passed, will remind fans (and hopefully radio) what a juggernaut of a career McEntire’s had singing story songs that take the listener on an emotional journey.
McEntire dedicates “You Never Gave Up On Me” to her mama, but it could be dedicated to anyone in your life. The closing track features only Catherine Marx on piano and McEntire’s eclectic vocal range that were recorded in a single take. This was such a nice way to close out the record.
“No U In Oklahoma” is one of two Western Swing songs on the album. It’s instrumentation is much like her 1990 duet with Vince Gill, “Oklahoma Swing.” McEntire co-wrote the uptempo fiddle and steel-driven track with Ronnie Dunn and Donna McSpadden. Co-Producer Buddy Cannon chose this version of the track over McEntire’s solo penned version that she performed during her MasterClass in 2016. However, it’s the lyrics that were changed with the arrangements staying close to each other.
“Freedom,” the album’s first single, seems patriotic from the title, but is actually about finding the love of your life without being held back. “That’s why people fight for it, rise for it/Burn up the night for it/Cry for it, pine for it/Cross rivers wide for it/Once you’ve held the truth there’s nothing you won’t do/And when I look into your eyes I know why people die for it/Freedom/Loving you feels like freedom,” McEntire sings in the chorus.
McEntire recorded a total of fifteen songs for the album. Twelve are included here with two bonus tracks as a Target exclusive. That means there’s one left over that we’ll hopefully get to hear at some point.
While “Freedom” was serviced to radio last week, it debuted at No. 52 on the country charts and has dropped after its first week. The medium, which is focused on a contemporary sound and men, consistently ignores her music. George Strait, who also only records traditional country, has earned his first Top 20 in years with “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar,” so age only seems to be a factor if the artist is a woman, and her rabid fan base knows this!
Don’t let the lack of radio play fool you into thinking McEntire is a legacy act though. The singer won her first GMA Dove Award for “Back To God” in 2017 along with making her thirteenth summit to No. 1 with the double gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Hope and Faith in 2017. All of this with little to no radio support. Stronger Than The Truth reveals that there’s still substance left in country music as McEntire fills “Your Heart” with emotion, heartbreak and love like a “Storm in a Shot Glass,” like country music should do! Her fans will make this album No. 1, despite outside support!