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Reba McEntire

Room to Breathe – 2003 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Reba McEntire

The thrill of hearing Reba McEntire get ultra-bluegrass on the single "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain," makes one wish she would just have the guts make a Ricky Skaggs/Patty Loveless move and record an all-bluegrass album one day. There are bright moments here, such as the gospel of "Sky Full Of Angels" and secular gospel of "Love Revival" where McEntire's performance shines at full throttle.

But bland ballads, notably "Secret" and "If I Had Any Sense Left At All," tend to drag Reba down from that mountain. Granted, nobody does sad quite like McEntire, which is exemplified here by "Once You've Learned To Be Lonely." But excellent ballads, like "He Gets That From Me," are few and far between. Reba sings extremely well throughout - and exceptionally well on "Moving Oleta" - but she's not given nearly enough to dig her teeth into.

She reveals so much spunk when acting in her TV show and also when she's called upon to host award shows that it makes one long to hear this same sort of vigor in her recorded music as well. This album finds Reba with room to breathe, but it ultimately falls short of leaving the listener breathless.