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George Strait - Troubadour 
Album Review By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Staff Journalist
4/14/08

George Strait loves rodeos and hunting, hosts his own team-roping competition every spring and plans his tour schedule around time at home with his wife. On top of that, he just released an outstanding album for the 37th time. No wonder this Texas cowboy owns the record for most number 1 singles in any genre (more than 50) and has more gold and platinum albums than any other country artist to this day. 

The year after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he won Single and Song of the Year for “Give it Away.” Although life seems to be luxurious for this country star, it hasn’t always been easy. He grew up in Persall, Texas, and may have picked up on his love for rodeos while spending summers working on the family cattle ranch outside of Big Wells. Strait’s parents divorced when he was in third grade, separating Strait and his brother from their sister. After high school he began classes but then dropped out and married his high school sweetheart, who he has been happily married to ever since. A short Army career took place before an honorable discharge led him to a degree in agriculture from Southwest Texas State University. Strait and his wife, Norma, had two children, one who was tragically killed in a car crash at age 13, and another who is pursuing a career as a PRCA team roping competitor now that he has graduated from Texas A&M University.

Editors Note: Click on the highlighted songs below to hear song by song commentary by Strait himself.)

The bands that Strait participated in during high school and the Army led him to the Ace in the Hole Band in college, which was looking for a lead singer. They recorded several singles in Texas that never received appropriate recognition; however, soon the group was discovered and the rest is history.

A lot has happened since the band’s first single, “Unwound,” was released in 1981. The first single from Troubadour, the tender “I Saw God Today,” broke a Strait record by debuting at number 19 on the country radio charts; the album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 album charts as well as on the Top Country Charts. When you listen to it, you’ll know why.

The album begins with the title track, “Troubadour,” which is a true career-reflective song featuring label mate Vince Gill. The genuine cuts “It Was Me,” “Give Me More Time” and “When You’re In Love” show the softer side of Strait which we have all loved for years. “It Was Me” is a delightful love story, opening with love at first sight not only for one lucky person, but for both. 

Strait’s Ace In the Hole Band has a unique style that is recognizable and evident on “West Texas Town.” This song, which includes a great instrumental solo, is done as a duet with Dean Dillon, one of Strait’s most popular songwriters. Dillon wrote 13 of Strait’s hits, beginning with “Unwound” back in 1981. Dillon’s vast contributions also include “Ocean Front Property,” “The Chair” and “She Let Herself Go.”

Last time I was in Nashville I went to a show at the BlueBird Café to see singer/songwriter David Kroll; to my surprise, one of the songwriters for the visual “If Heartaches Were Horses,” Wil Nance, was there as well. Nance, of Smokin’ Grapes Music Publishing, performed the song and mentioned that it would be on Strait’s Troubadour album, set to be released less than a week after the show.

If Straight hadn’t already caused me to fall in love with the song, the keyboard solo in “Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song” would have done it. Similar to “Brothers of the Highway,” an enjoyable tribute to the hard workers of the world, this one will be an instant favorite.

Strait has a little fun with the Jimmy Buffet sounding “River of Love,” which I have also heard from another very talented female singer from Nashville, Jessie Smith. Smith says “I felt like it had some soul, and I love when country and swampy soul are mixed together.” Both versions are certainly worth listening to numerous times.

Strait starts out on “House of Cash,” a tribute to Johnny and June; then Patty Loveless joins in with her hearty vocals. This is an emotive song touching on the tragic loss of the historic Cash house in Hendersonville, TN.

I cannot say that Strait’s 37th album is better than any of the others, but that is because they have all been fantastic. Excellence is what we expect from this man, and knowing that, he has given it to us once again.

 

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