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Martina McBride

Evolution – 1997 (RCA)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Martina McBride

The lead-off "I'm Little But I'm Loud" is in sharp contrast to the rest of Martina McBride's album. For starters, it is by far the most country song on the generous 14-song disc. And indicative of the current state of country, it was recorded when she was only seven. Fast forward about 25 years. McBride's puny voice has matured, of course, where it now can be big and brassy. She infuses songs with a great sense of vocal energy ("Be That Way"), although the duet with Clint Black ("Still Holding On") is uninspired.

But the problem is that McBride has strayed very very far from her youthful roots. There is clearly an overt pop/adult contemporary edge to the proceedings. To wit, including "Valentine" with Jim Brickman. The playing rarely rises above pedestrian. And don't blame the producer because McBride co-produced 12 tracks. Except for "A Broken Heart," where McBride's vocals soar amidst laid back steely guitar and soulful backing vocals, and "Whatever You Say," any sense of traditional country music is lacking. Too bad because McBride is certainly capable. Oh to be young again.