George Strait

Always Never the Same – 1999 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

All of George Strait's 23 albums are gold, and 21 are at least platinum. 57 of his 61 singles have reached country's Top 10. Only Mariah Carey has gotten more radio airplay over the last five years. Now Strait is ready to continue his amazing success. His 24th album opens with its first single, "Meanwhile," an achingly beautiful waltz sung by a man in a seemingly wonderful relationship who, nevertheless, can't keep thinking back to a past love. The steel guitar, fiddle, and strings combine perfectly with the tear in Strait's voice to convey the song's heartache.

Although nothing else achieves the near perfection of that song, there's not a throwaway song on the entire album either. "Write This Down" and the title track are signature Strait wordplay songs, and "What Do You Say to That" and "I Look at You" are pretty love songs.

Strait's standard cast of writers, including Dean Dillon, Jim Lauderdale and Aaron Barker, help ensure the album's high quality and make it the latest in a long line of successes.