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George Strait

One Step at a Time – 1998 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by George Strait

In a time when country radio focuses on hot new country songs by twenty-something artists, George Strait breaks all the rules. He turns 46 this month and sings traditional country, yet he's the reigning ACM and CMA male vocalist of the year, and his newest album debuted at number one.

There are no surprises here, just more great straight-ahead country music. The island feel of the first single, "I Just Want to Dance With You," is a refreshing, distinct sound on the radio waves, and Robert Earl Keen's love ballad "Maria" has a similar tropical feel. "Remember the Alamo" is a more modern-sounding ballad about a love that began in San Antone, and Jim Lauderdale's great song about resisting an affair, "We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This," is one of the disc's few uptempo tunes. In fact, Strait only misses the mark once on this album, with the ordinary midtempo new-country love song, "True."

Most artists have their ups and downs, but this album keeps Strait at the level of greatness he's maintained throughout his career.