REVIEW: Reba brings versatility with ‘Love Somebody’

Reba brings versatility with Love Somebody, her first album in five years. Starting with the opening track and the album’s first single, “Going Out Like That,” to the closing self-pinned religious, “Pray For Peace,” the flamed-hair singer has an album full of tracks fans of all ages will enjoy including a new batch of “strong women songs” Reba is known for recording.

“Going Out Like That” is a strong lead single as it helps break the bro country trend that’s been dominating lately. Originally sung from a guy’s perspective, Reba becomes the narrator of a heartbroken woman who decides to forget her pain by going out to drink and party. The track might’ve peaked in the mid-30s on the country radio charts, but it landed at #1 on iTunes Country Charts during its first week of release in January and its sassiness proves Reba still has it.

The album’s second track, “Enough,” is what Reba calls the “2015 version of ‘Does He Love You’,” a song she and her duet partner, Linda Davis, won a Grammy for in 1994. This time, Reba asked Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles to join her on the track about a love triangle between two women and one man. The production is full of pop overtones with loops but big drums and powerful vocals by the pair. It could easily be a single as it fits radio’s more contemporary sound.

“She Got Drunk Last Night” is one of the most country-sounding songs on the album. A stripped down production with acoustic guitars, brushes on the drums and background vocals prominent in the mix, the song is about a woman who has one final drink before making the call to her ex.

One of the album’s stronger tracks is “Livin’ Ain’t Killed Me Yet,” an autobiographical song (for anyone, really) that has rock overtones with big drums and screeching guitars. The chorus reads: “I’ve been down to the wire with my feet to the fire / But this livin’ ain’t killed me yet / I’ve been tested and tried but I still got some fight / No, this livin’ ain’t killed me / Livin’ ain’t killed me yet.” Anyone could relate to the track, but Reba who just turned 60 on March 28th, has had a career full of ups and downs and this fits her well.

“That’s When I Knew” is another country-sounding track that starts out sad but becomes uplifting by the end. The slow song is about a couple breaking up and the woman not being happy or even okay with it. But then she goes out on a date with another man and realizes she has moved on when she looks into her new date’s eyes and doesn’t see her ex’s face.

“I’ll Go On” is another break up song with the narrator realizing that her life will go on despite the break up. A beautiful piano ballad with fiddle lead, the heartbreaking song was written by 16 year old Ella Mae Bowen and popular Nashville tunesmith Tommy Lee James. The woman will love her ex forever and will hurt for a long time, but will be okay as she realizes she will go on.

Another rocker, “Until They Don’t Love You,” is a song that Reba recorded after finishing the album when her label told her two additional tracks were needed for an exclusive Target edition. The track was inserted as part of the main album and features a rhyming pattern of A-B-C-D which Reba says is easy for her to memorize. The productions feature funky rock drums loud in the mix, hand claps on the chorus, a gospel choir that adds flair and haunting high piano taps in the bridge.

“Promise Me Love” is a mid tempo romantic love song that could easily be used at someone’s wedding and resembles her 1998 hit “Forever Love.” “And I swear not to give up on you / I swear that I’ll always be your truth / I swear to bring you light / In the darkest of nights.”

“Just Like Them Horses” is a song that Reba just initially intended to sing acoustically at her dad’s funeral late last year, but she ended up recording it with a full band for the album when her producer, Tony Brown, suggested it be included. The track features a beautiful fiddle lead with piano and percussive undertones. Liz Hengber began writing the song about a friend who was dying of cancer, but when she couldn’t finish it, she asked Tommy Lee James to write the music.

The title track “Love Somebody” is the most diverse track on the album featuring a hip hop loop with hand claps but stays country because of the banjo lead. Co-written by country newcomer Sam Hunt, the song grows loud on the chorus with big drums and “na na na na” backing vocals behind Reba’s powerful chops. Despite my distaste for loops, the track is one of my favorites because in my eyes, Reba does no wrong. I feel it would perform well as a single as it fits radio’s current sound and it’s pretty catchy.

“Love Land” is a powerful piano ballad that tells the story of a girl who makes the journey to marry the love of her life after getting pregnant. The narrator is speaking to her conservative mother on the phone who suggests she get married before “you bring a baby into this world.”

Closing out the 12 song set is “Pray For Peace,” a song Reba penned herself after speaking to God while walking on her ranch in nearby Nashville. She initially offered the hymn-like tune as a free download through her website last year and asked fans to submit themselves doing the hand signals for a video. The production features bass drum and cymbals with bagpipes and a choir featuring Ronnie Dunn and Kelly Clarkson. However, it wasn’t until Reba got into the studio that a bridge was written and other parts began falling into place.

An exclusive Target edition features two bonus tracks: “Whatever Way It Hurts The Least” and “More Than Just Her Last Name,” both co-written by country newcomer Brandy Clark.

The album isn’t available to purchase until April 14th, but iTunes Radio began streaming it one week early, on April 7th, on its First Play with limited commercial interruption.

You can bet I’ll be at Target first thing Tuesday morning picking up this gem to add to my massive CD collection.

CDTarget Edition

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.