Review : Martina McBride - Shine
BostonFor a taste of the power of positivity, look no further than Martina McBride's splendid new album, "Shine."
It doesn't matter if the protagonists of the country singer's songs are making up, breaking up, shacking up, or cracking up, the singer and her songwriters have managed to inject hope into even the darkest scenarios.
It's easy to find the silver lining in odes to joy like the uptempo "Sunnyside Up" or the cheerleading ballad "I Just Call You Mine." But McBride even manages to do it on "Lies," an examination of denial that serves as the album's show-stopping closer.
The peak - both musically and thematically - comes on "I'm Trying," a simply constructed breakdown of complex emotions about a couple wracked by substance abuse who come undone over a hushed acoustic guitar. Songwriters Darrell Scott and Tia Sillers advance an optimism for both parties that leavens the tears evoked by McBride's tender vocal. Great stuff.
Familiar McBride sounds abound, from playful country gospel ("You're Not Leaving Me") to another heartfelt look at domestic violence ("Wild Rebel Rose"), but Dann Huff - the longtime Faith Hill producer - also injects fresh life into the album by taking inspiration from the past....full text
CourantMartina McBride has had a successful run atop mainstream country music for more than a decade, and can trace her four Country Music Association awards for female vocalist of the year awards to high-watt deliveries of pop-laced female empowerment messages. The 42-year-old Kansas native continues to mine that vein on her 10th studio album, "Shine," but although her singing is still strong, polish and predictability are its defining traits.
McBride paints in broad vocal strokes on almost obsessively manicured tunes. Her voice is a glossy instrument in a room full of them as she ascends the expansive chorus of the pulsating "Ride." She wrings the slow-burning hook of "I Just Call you Mine" and the outsized refrain of "What do I Have to Do" for all their modest worth, but the careful contours she works so hard to shape detach her storytelling from the intended heartbreak of an abused girl's story on the mandolin-dressed "Wild Rebel Rose."...full text
AllmusicShine is Martina McBride's first recording in two years, following up her successful album Waking Up Laughing. While the previous album was entirely self-produced -- a rare reward in Nashville, but one McBride earned with a string of platinum selling recordings -- on this set she is listed as a co-producer with the veteran Dan Huff. As is customary, husband John recorded and engineered the set. McBride has long been associated with anthemic songs, and an album by her without them would seem incomplete; in other words, there have to be real showcases for that incredibly powerful singing voice of hers, and Shine is no exception. The album's first single, "I Just Call You Mine," has the big swelling choruses, enormous string arrangements, wailing electric guitars, and singing pedal steel -- all with larger than life drums by Matt Chamberlain -- fits that bill. The set opener, "Wrong Baby Wrong," is another trope in McBride's arsenal in that it contains an uplifiting message of perseverance in tough times all set to a catchy, insistent, guitar-based rocker complete with power chords in the intro. What's most compelling about Shine, though, is its sound. In many ways, McBride has always been among the most contemporary sounding of her peers while always maintaining a sound of her own. Not so this time out. In fact, this disc sounds more like a Keith Urban record than it does one of McBride's. And that's not necessarily a criticism, just a bit of a shock. Musically it's consistent all the way through. The songs are all of a piece and flow seamlessly from one another. Textures are also remarkably similar, but the difference is the rock & roll sound at the heart of Shine. And make no mistake, McBride can sing rock as well as anything else she sets her mind to. Check the wildly celebratory single "Ride," with its shuffling, big drums and chugging guitars (which feel almost like outtakes from .38 Special's hit book) and the gradually ascending chorus. That said, even the ballads come across with a very modern slant -- check the faux Celtic "Wild Rebel Rose," or the breakup anthem "Walk Away," that gives way to rock in the chorus with its Urban-esque banjo textures flowing through the drums, pedal steel and power chords with a lilting fiddle tag. The set closes with another McBride trademark, the big, sophisticated adult contemporary ballad disguised as contemporary country music -- the one thing here Keith Urban wouldn't attempt on one of his own records: "Lies." A lone piano accompanies the vocalist through a heartwrenching verse. It threatens to explode at every turn, especially when the strings enter, but the tension just builds as synths, a slow, funereal snare and bass drum, and a dollop of acoustic guitar come in. Finally, two thirds of the way through, it does, but it's McBride's voice exploding over the top of the instrumentation that never competes with her. It remains staid so she can allow the catharsis to come pouring out. This is a solid, consistent date all the way through that is evidence of McBride's long chart success....full text
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