Tuesday, November 9, 2010;
ALL THE WOMEN I AM
Trouble sets in early on Reba McEntire's 26th studio album, "All the Women I Am."
The prefab first single and lead track, "Turn on the Radio," exemplifies her ongoing struggle to find a song worthy of her voice, a song that will allow McEntire, now in her fourth decade of recordmaking, to sound contemporary without sounding like an LOL-ing teenager.
"Turn on the Radio," in which McEntire awkwardly advises a faithless ex to "Try to call/Twitter me/Text until your fingers bleed," is not that song.
McEntire's last album, '09's almost-platinum "Keep on Loving You," proved better at ensuring that McEntire's usual tales of love, abandonment and sticktoitiveness appealed to middle-aged soccer moms without alienating their daughters. "Women" tries harder, with worse results. McEntire and her collaborators aim for Carrie Underwood and too often wind up with warmed-over Shania Twain, and that's when they're lucky.
But when "Women" is good, it's really good: There are torch and twang ballads ("Cry"), up-by-your-bootstraps anthems ("A Little Want To") and musical versions of Lifetime TV movies ("The Day She Got Divorced"). There's also a subtle, fantastic cover of Beyoncé's hit "If I Were a Boy" that's so unfussy it basically replaces R&B instruments with country ones and leaves it at that.
-- Allison Stewart
Recommended tracks: "If I Were a Boy," "Cry"