Album Review

Strait’s ‘Twang’ gets short shrift

August 10, 2009

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George Strait Twang
MCA Nashville
Essential "Twang"

George Strait has been such a model of consistency that you’re almost shocked when an album this erratic comes along. Alas, he has become the Jimmy Carter of country music. He tries to be all things to all people, with mixed results.

Strait kept hillbilly twang alive in Nashville when corporate types abandoned it, so it’s gratifying to see how the new “Twang’’ (Strait’s 38th album) blasts off with the title track and lyrics to “get that boot-stomping, honky-tonkin’ feeling flowing through my veins.’’ But the feeling flows away quickly with four straight, often gussied-up ballads for a middle-of-the-road crowd, notably “I Gotta Get to You’’ - with its sappy line “because you’ve sure been getting to me.’’ That’s embarrassing.

He returns to some gritty honky-tonk later on, but not enough. The most impressive part of the album is that Strait co-wrote three songs - the first time he’s written since his 1982 debut album. He penned them with his son, Bubba, a budding talent who receives a sole writing credit on “Arkansas Dave,’’ a spare, folkie track with a cowboy feel that his dad brings out beautifully.

There are some great things here, but not likely enough for Strait to win another Grammy for best country album, which he did last year. Let’s hope that next time he really brings the twang. (Out tomorrow)