Somebody has been giving Reba McEntire bad advice. The Oklahoma country star is one of the finest singers in America today, but someone has persuaded her to turn her current tour into a glitzy show biz debacle more fitting for Cher or Sheena Easton. Far too much of McEntire's show at Wolf Trap last night was devoted to fancy light displays, expensive costume changes, pedestrian Vegas choreography, lame synth and rock guitar arrangements, and songs that placed far too few demands on her talent.
Just how much talent she was squandering was obvious when she finally sat still for a moment and sang a few country heartbreak ballads. On songs like "How Blue Can I Feel" and "One Promise Too Late," her Southwestern accent established a soft-spoken kitchen table intimacy and then her big, true soprano opened up and transformed that confidentiality into thrilling catharsis. She is still capable of great country music if she would only hire a fiddler and a steel guitarist and concentrate on singing.
Opening the show was Trader-Price, a quintet led by three Oklahoma brothers who used to back up Roy Orbison. Their attempts to pass off fluffy pop harmonies as country-rock were unconvincing.