Country legend George Strait may be turning 61-years-old the same week his brand new project, Love Is Everything, hits stores, but make no mistake – age certainly isn’t slowing down the prolific King of Country. Love Is Everything, George’s 40thstudio album available May 14, revels in the expressive, emotional energy we’ve come to expect from the Country Music Hall of Famer.
Playing like a classic Strait record through and through, Love Is Everything makes its mark by being earnest, thoughtful and very country. George wrote or co-wrote four of the album’s 13 songs, and tracks like the youthful “The Night Is Young” (co-written with his son Bubba and longtime writing partner Dean Dillon) show that George’s energy and passion haven’t changed. Though his smooth Texas twang sounds a bit older, George’s timing on songs like the full circle, “I Got A Car” and his ability to convey a song’s true essence are that of an expert storyteller. The crumbling loneliness of the countrypolitan-influenced, “I Just Can’t Go On Dying Like This,” which references Hank Sr.’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” or the upbeat strut of “I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing” both carry a sound you can feel. And when he sings, I know it’s real ‘cause my heart don’t lie, on the latter, it’s hard not to imagine listeners thinking the same thing.
George teamed up once again with Tony Brown (Vince Gill, Trace Adkins) to co-produce the album. The duo, whose partnership stretches back to George’s 1992 Pure Country project, employs the familiar sounds that make a George Strait album a George Strait album. Neo-traditional arrangements big on acoustic guitar, classic telecaster tones, piano, pedal steel and fiddle fill out tearjerkers like the standout ¾-time cowboy tune “Blue Melodies” and the empathetic “That’s What Breaking Hearts Do.” Adding a lush string section on the inspirational “Believe” gives the song a bright texture and a hint of the Nashville Sound on what is generally an easygoing, Texas-bred country record.
Though the project’s sentimental lead single, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” might indeed be the album’s best song, a pair of barroom tunes on the record’s back half display George’s wonderful talent as a storyteller. “You Don’t Know What You’re Missing” is a lonely man’s unsympathetic reaction to the family “problems” his friend complains about. You don’t know what it sounds like when nobody’s home, he sings over winding pedal steel. And on the deceptively simple “Sittin’ On The Fence,” introspective guitar lines provide the soundtrack for one man trying to rationalize staying at the bar for another drink or heading home to the woman that loves him. Stories like these make for the thinking man’s drinking song.
George spends a lot of time thinking about love on this album. There’s also a sense on the stripped-down title track that “love is everything” can simply mean following your heart. Closing the record with the cinematic “When The Credits Roll,” George’s life flashes through the lines reaffirming that a loving, full life is one that values oneself as well as one’s relationships. Parting on such an encouraging thought, Love Is Everything adds an insightful and sentimental chapter to George’s continuing legacy.
Key Tracks – “Give It All We Got Tonight,” “You Don’t Know What You’re Missing,” “When The Credits Roll,” “Blue Melodies”