19 August 2009

Album Review: "Twang" by George Strait


Twang
George Strait
Release Date: 11 August 2009

George Strait follows his Album of the Year award-winning Troubadour with this 11-song collection and it's quite a bold statement from the living legend. On that album, Strait dueted with Patty Loveless in the tribute song, "House of Cash," reflecting on the legacy of the late Man in Black. It appears that King George decided to channel Johnny Cash for this album, because several songs venture into areas unfamiliar to the honky-tonker's discography. Much has already been made of the whimsical, almost creepy album cover featuring Strait holding what is either a mandolin or a toothbrush and making an odd face, sticking out his tongue. Whether you chuckle or want to quickly open the jewel case and get past the image, there is little denying that it is incongruous with the public image Strait has cultivated since 1981.

The content of the album is just as daring, possibly moreso. For starters, Strait co-wrote three songs, the first time he's recorded a song written by his own hand since 1982's "I Can't See Texas from Here." Perhaps the impetus was the opportunity to bond with son George "Bubba" Strait, Jr., with whom he co-wrote the songs. Bubba is also credited as the lone songwriter of "Arkansas Dave," a violent song about a son seeking vengeance against his father's killer; hardly the same kind of dancehall fare we've come to expect. "Easy as You Go" chronicles a young couple who give into lust, and whose families disapprove of the ensuing pregnancy. And, to ensure that you don't leave the album feeling too back-to-normal, Strait closes with "El Rey," sung entirely in Spanish!

Not everything is out of place, though. The album-opening "Twang" is vintage honky-tonkin' Strait, and "I Gotta Get to You" is sure to find its way onto a young love playlist. "Where Have I Been All My Life" and "The Breath You Take" find Strait offering the perspective of a man seasoned enough to see things differently. All in all, despite the bold new areas for his music, Twang is undeniably a George Strait album--and that's never a bad thing.

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