Reba McEntire has done more than survive. She almost has reinvented herself. She's been a country star for 20 years, but in recent years, her star was not quite shining as brightly. Then, she hit paydirt this year with her leading role on Broadway in"Annie Get Your Gun" and a few more hits.
Her latest hits package, covering the last seven years, shows some of her shortcomings as an artist. The hits did not come quite as frequently partially because her choice of material was severely wanting. Gone was the harder edged country sound for a middle-of-the-road pop sound that barely registered as country ("Forever Love," "Fallin' Out of Love" and "And Still" are prime examples here). One of the few examples of country here was her big hit with Brooks & Dunn, "If You See Him, If You See Her," mainly thanks to Ronnie Dunn. And she scores as well with the powerhouse vocal turn on the gospelly, bluesy "Why Haven't I Heard From You?" The 15-song collection, which leaves out "I'd Rather Ride Around With You" and ""How Was I To Know?", includes three new songs with the title track and "Myself Without You" being more of the same MOR, meaning not very interesting. The closing "Sweet Music Man," penned by Kenny Rogers, shines thanks to Alison Krauss' spare production.
One gets the feeling that Reba's career could have been more noteworthy if she had stayed true to hear roots. She certainly a great voice with lots of twang and inflection. The question is whether she goes home or gets even more mainstream.