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George Strait

Twang – 2009 (MCA)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by George Strait

Twenty-six albums and 28 years into his recording career, George Strait still has a few tricks up his sleeves. While making musical intents clear from the title track, written in part by Jim Lauderdale, there are a few changes here.

First off and perhaps most shockingly, the quiet Texan wrote 3 of the 13 songs, including the hit single (Living for the Night with long-time cohort Dean Dillon and Strait's son Bubba. The younger Strait penned the very fine Arkansas Dave about a convict by himself, Out of Sight, Out of Mind with his father, and they wrote He's Got That Something Special with Dillon. Based on the quality of these cuts, one is left scratching the head wondering what took so long. The last time George Strait wrote a song was 1984's I Can't See Texas from Here from "Strait from the Heart."

Even more so in recent years, Strait's music has been characterized by very strong song selection, perhaps not so hard since he has few peers (or competitors) for recording traditional country where Stuart Duncan's fiddle and Paul Franklin's steel guitar are not afterthoughts, but part of the fabric of what makes Strait so vital today. Producer Tony Brown once again handles the chores perfectly along with Strait, whose voice remains as sturdy as ever.

Strait mixes it up with the bouncy Delbert McClinton/Gary Nicholson Same Kind of Crazy, Hot Grease and Zydeco and a Spanish song closing the disc, El Rey, first done by late Mexican ranchera singer Jose Alfredo Jimenez.

Strait makes no bones about where he's coming from with a title like "Twang," but nor thankfully did he feel a need to rest on his laurels.