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Martina McBride

Martina – 2003 (RCA)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Martina McBride

On Martina McBride's latest, one thing remains pretty constant - one of country's best singers retains that distinction. McBride got a lot of power in those vocal chords - always has from her first album. And she mixes it up here with soft touches (the very much feel good, syrupy lead off "So Magical" and the ability of a woman to come into her own, "She's a Butterfly") to a tougher edge (the obvious female empowerment big sounding single "This One's For the Girls") to a more mid-tempo sound ("City of Love" where the couple overcomes any problems). One wonders why McBride needs to be continually layered or backed up on vocals. She ought to trust her own instrument more as she does on the closing spare live version of "Over the Rainbow."

The Kansan has become known for her female-oriented songs, but they tend to make the obvious statements about doing it on your own without digging too deep.One thing a bit different is that McBride, who co-produced the album with Paul Worley, opts for more of a country sound. The instrumentation underscores that with pedal steel, mandolin and fiddle sprinkled into the mix. McBride couldn't plead guilty to being traditional exactly, but nor has she gone overboard towards pop as she has in recent years.

While the disc loses steam as it goes along, McBride doesn't stray too far her norm, which means she will please her fans once again.