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George Strait

Honkytonkville – 2003 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by George Strait

Since George Strait's first MCA album in 1981, dozens of commercial country artists have come and gone. But Strait remains, still true to traditional country music and still at the top of his game.

One of the best of the 12 tracks here is the tear-stained first single, "Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa." Strait displays some courage in taking on this song, previously recorded by Merle Haggard, and making it all his own.

A real-life cowboy, Strait knows what he's talking about when he sings the mid-tempo "Cowboys Like Us," which gently envelops the listener in the freedom of the cowboy way of life. "I Found Jesus on the Jailhouse Floor" is an upbeat gospel song, a departure for Strait that works well. "Honk If You Honky Tonk" is the only throwaway track here, but the rollicking song nicely separates the slower tunes.

The A-team studio musicians are in fine form, and Strait's voice is tender on the slow songs, playful on the ditties, and always smooth. Strait recently celebrated his 50th number 1 hit, and it looks like he has no intention of stopping there.