George Strait


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Tempting as it may be, Twang cannot be classified as a thematic counterpart to 2008's Troubadour, an album that followed through on its rugged journeyman title. Once the opening title track twangs out of view, the album quickly veers toward the comfortably weathered balladeering that Strait has made his stock in trade for the better part of three decades now, quick enough to suggest that Twang might be little more than another reliably steady Strait record. To be sure, this is recognizably within his comfort zone -- as always, when you do it as well as he does, there's no need to change -- but beneath that supple exterior there are a few surprises, chief among them the re-emergence of Strait the songwriter. George hasn't penned many songs since the early '80s, when his son George "Bubba" Strait, Jr. was just a baby, but now that he's a grown man Bubba has turned into a songwriter in his own right, coaxing his dad into composing three songs with him, including the terrific tear-in-my-beer single "Living for the Night" and the breezy lament "He's Got That Something Special" (Bubba also pens the excellent Johnny Cash homage "Arkansas Dave" on his own). These are change-ups, not curveballs; Strait saved his twists for the end, when he slides into some "Hot Grease and Zydeco" or goes full-on Mariachi for the closer "El Rey." It's these little twists -- the stylistic stretches and original tunes -- that give Twang some serious character and make it more than just another sturdy Strait record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi