Martina McBride - 'Reckless'


Five years on from her last country music release (2014's Everlasting being an album of R&B and soul covers), April 29th marked Martina McBride's return to country music with her thirteenth studio album, Reckless. Led by the track of the same name, the album holds a mix of songwriters and two tracks country music fans may recognise, It Ain't Pretty from Lady Antebellum's Golden and Low All Afternoon from Hailey Whitters' Black Sheep.

Previously released as the album's lead single Reckless is a great track. Instrumentally building through the first minute and a half, the track as a whole seems perfect to sing along to, I imagine it is great to hear live. The production is pitched at a relatively heavy level but is smoothly kept at a point where Martina's vocal remains comfortable. A great track that you will inevitably want to play again and again (if you haven't already!).

The Real Thing sees Martina blend a relaxed production with lyrics like "the glitz and glitter won't last forever, some day it'll all wash away" and "put a filter on it so nobody knows it ain't the real thing" and an appearance from Buddy Miller to create a thought-provoking song. The mandolin creates a catchy rhythm that leaves you tapping your foot along to what is definitely a very strong track.

Whilst It Ain't Pretty has become a recognisable track to many country fans, it is still interesting to hear a different artist put their spin on it. The overall sound of the instrumentalisation is intrinsically the same as Lady Antebellum's version with a few little tweaks but one thing that did stuck out for me is that Martina's version feels as though it has a little more grit behind it which seems to work better with the overall song. It's definitely well thought through, the production choices play to Martina's voice and also allow her to make her own mark upon It Ain't Pretty as a whole.

Two tracks in particular stood out on this release in my opinion, the first of which being Low All Afternoon. Interestingly the only track on the release with a solo writer, the loose waltz timing gives the track a steady pace through an instrumentalisation that is led by the drum line and an interweaving mandolin line and backing vocals courtesy of Nathan Chapman blend with Martina's heartfelt vocal delivery very well. The lyrics, whilst being quite sad, are also very touching, lines like "he's ready to settle down, now that he's messed around with you" and the repeated "weeping willow, you're gonna hang low all afternoon" are smoothly contrasted with the final "weeping willow, don't ya hang low all afternoon", the overall story behind the track being built up very successfully. A gorgeous track where each part comes together to create a very compelling listen.

We'll Pick Up Where We Left Off has a great overall sound to it. As with the majority of this album the track is very lyric centred and it was that and the intriguing production that really drew me to We'll Pick Up Where We Left Off. The drum and percussion lines alongside the backing vocals really help to create a R&B/soul feel to a track that serves to add another dynamic to the album as well as reinforcing the notion Everlasting started, that Martina can sing R&B/soul very well. I really hope we get to hear this as a single at some point during this album's span.


Track listing...
1) Reckless - Sarah Buxton, Zach Crowell, Heather Morgan
2) It Ain't Pretty - Nicolle Galyon, Eric Paslay
3) Just Around The Corner - Cary Barlowe, Sarah Buxton, Sam Ellis
4) Everybody Wants To Be Loved - Hillary Lindsey, Steve McEwan, Gordie Sampson
5) The Real Thing (feat. Buddy Miller) - Ivy Walker, Sophie Walker, Hailey Whitters, Adam Wright
6) That's The Thing About Love - Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson, Troy Verges
7) Low All Afternoon - Hailey Whitters
8) Diamond (feat. Keith Urban) - Nicolle Galyon, Eric Paslay, Liz Rose
9) We'll Pick Up Where We Left Off - Nathan Chapman, Blair Daly, Marc Roberge
10) You And You Alone - Sarah Buxton, Abe Stokloasa, Daniel Tashian

There is a quality to this album that I originally couldn't put my finger on but I have reached the conclusion that it is that Reckless simply sounds effortless from start to finish. Martina's vocal is incredibly strong and seems completely comfortable, the song choice is clearly well thought through and the musicians, backing vocalists and song-writers are each very talented. A brilliant album, welcome back Martina!

Comments

  1. Tim (ruby251tc)1 May 2016 at 17:23

    Fabulous review and one that I totally agree with. I think it's the Nathan Chapman production. His album is well worth a listen as well.

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