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Reba McEntire

What If It's You – 1996 (MCA)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Reba McEntire

After last year's desultory "Starting Over," Reba McEntire revisits her upfront vocal style of music, and for the most part, it works. The emphasis is on the vocals, and Reba, of course, is a powerhouse on songs typically dealing with heartbreak. That is evident from the lead-off "How Was I to Know" in which she sings about being "Swept up inside a whirlwind/I just couldn't see the end till you were gone." This is trademark Reba where she bares her soul without oversinging.

The sadness continues with the current single "The Fear of Being Alone," more glossy sounding and musically upbeat. But there is often a reserved quality to the music, less emphasis on the glitz with many acoustic guitars and laid-back songs ("What If It's You" and "Close to Crazy," co-written by Melba Montgomery).

Reba co-produced with long-standing engineer John Guess and used her touring band, both welcome changes. A few lyrical clunkers exist ("I'd Rather Ride Around With You") where the lyrics don't quite match the music, making for awkward phrasing. That aside, this is really starting over.