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George Strait

Troubadour – 2008 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by George Strait

George Strait seems to get better with age. "It Just Comes Natural" from 2006 was one of his best. The 12 songs on his 37th CD almost all turn the trick as well. Strait once again benefits from very strong material from the likes of Buddy Cannon (and Randy Hardison with the ballad "It Was Me"), Leslie Satcher (the title track and "House of Cash," a strong duet with Patty Loveless, who given a chance to shine, sounds as fine as ever in this tribute to June and Johnny Cash) and Dean Dillon, a frequent Strait contributor, who helps on four songs, all with different writers (he also owned the only throwaway, the topically and musically light "When You're In Love").

Strait recorded some of the CD at Jimmy Buffett's Key West studio, but he doesn't go very tropical except on the breezy "River of Love." Strait mixes it up sufficiently between Texas swing (the bouncy, tailor-made for Strait "West Texas Town," a duet with Dillon and "Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song"), traditional country, an easier-going, midtempo sound (the single "I Saw God Today") and the slightly harder edged. Many songs are radio ready, but that doesn't mean that Strait suddenly veered commercial. Strait and his long-time co-producer Tony Brown ensure that on an album playing to Strait's vocal prowess.

If Strait really will just be "an old troubadour when I'm gone" as he sings in the title track, that should be the path that all singers follow.