Release Date: Sep 6, 2011
Record label: MCA Nashville
Genre(s): Country, Contemporary Country, New Traditionalist, Neo-Traditionalist Country, Traditional Country
On one of the most artless cover photos of the year: An on-stage, earphone-sporting George Strait smiles, in a literal translation of the title of his 26th studio album, Here for a Good Time. The title track, which has already bounced its way up the radio chart, is an optimist’s anthem that’s also of the live-it-up, ‘nothin’ but a good time’ variety. The album begins with a similarly upbeat message (“Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”) in a song that seems destined to be yet another hit for Strait.
Given its title, it’s easy to assume Here for a Good Time -- George Strait’s 39th album in 30 years -- would be a single-minded soundtrack to a never-ending party, but things are a little more complicated than that. Strait slips into a reflective mood almost immediately, settling into the wryly melancholy “Drinkin' Man” on the second song, setting a reflective tone he carries through much of the rest of the record, particularly on its companion piece, “Poison. ” These two tunes undercut Strait’s rallying call for moonshine on the title track, but there’s not a contradiction here so much as Strait serving the needs of the song, his weary regret reading as convincingly as his carefree partying.
George Strait’s career has long been defined by the singer’s dogged consistency and predictability: For the better part of 30 years, he’s put out a new album roughly every couple of years that includes two or three solid singles and some inoffensive and utterly unremarkable filler. Since his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006, though, Strait has been taking more risks, and, as a result, his two most recent albums, Troubadour and Twang, are among his strongest. Here for a Good Time manages to be even better, boasting a higher caliber of songwriting than even those two records and considering broader themes in a way that Strait’s albums rarely have before.
George Strait’s been comfortable in the role of song interpreter for three decades. For all that time he’s been selecting sturdy, traditional-leaning country compositions by, say, Dean Dillon or Jim Lauderdale and giving those numbers an easygoing, straight-and-true delivery. But who’s to say Strait can’t decide it’s time to turn singer/songwriter, even this late in the game? After 37 studio albums worth of songs written by other folks, he wrote a few with his pro-rodeoing/songwriter son Bubba Strait and Dillon for 2009’s Twang.
TERIUS NASH “1977”. (radiokillarecords.com).