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|1. One Night|
|2. Always Be This Way|
|3. I'm Gonna Love You Through It|
|4. Marry Me|
|5. Broken Umbrella|
|6. You Can Get Your Lovin' Right Here|
|7. Whatcha Gonna Do|
|8. Teenage Daughters|
|9. Summer of Love|
|10. When You Love A Sinner|
|11. Long Distance Lullaby|
2011 album from the Country vocalist, her 11th album overall. The breadth of Martina's talents as recording artist, producer, songwriter, and concert entertainer has made her an in-demand performer and personality. Eleven features some of Martina's most personal songs to date, with the powerhouse vocalist penning six of the 11 tracks. While dabbling with songwriting in the past, Martina's newfound passion is evident in these songs, giving fans a deeper look into her reality.
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"11" is more than just the title of McBride's latest CD. Rather, this is also her 11th record with 11 newly recorded tracks in her illustrious career and it's released on October 11th. As if all of this is not enough, McBride will be hopping on the Amtrak to promote this record making 11 stops. However, it is not mathematical gimmick that will propel this disc to a brand new career high for this country diva, it's the songs. The majority of these 11 tracks are stellar -- packed with well-constructed melodies, thoughtful lyrics and catapulted by McBride's soaring high octane soprano. After 10 studio records with RCA Nashville Records, "11" marks a new beginning for McBride. On this her debut record for Republic Nashville Records, she has enlisted Bryon Gallimore (Faith Hill and Tim McGraw) as producer. Thankfully, Gallimore has not chosen the commercial exploitative route of imbuing this record with a ear popping stadium rock. Rather, this record has an organic feel with almost a rootsy feel on a few tracks yet it not so removed from commercial country radio. There are still some routine singles tailored for radio. Moreover, on this record McBride for the first time has co-written 7 out of the 11 cuts here.
Surprisingly, the best track on this disc has its sui genesis as a rock number. Imitating her peer Reba McEntire who had recently turned Beyonce's "If I Was a Boy" into a top 20 country hit, McBride has gone after Train's "Marry Me." "Marry Me" with its kitsch lyrics about the protagonist being smitten by love yet having no courage to tell the boy she loves begs for a country makeover. This is the type of music country music fans are craving for and with McBride and Train's Pat Monahan's sympathetic deliveries this is destined to be a hit. More romantic moments come with retro-sounding rock ballad "Broken Umbrella." This Mark Irwin, Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins composition finds a love drenched McBride basking in love's euphoria so much that no broken umbrella could deter her from her stormy trials. McBride has never sounded happier with the Jewel-like "Always Be This Way" where she is sonically carried by a reggae backbeat led by the song's irresistible hook. While summer love has been subject of many a country song (a la Alan Jackson's "Summertime Blues" and Walker Hayes' "Why Wait for Summer"), McBride's "Summer of Love" is taken at a slower and nostalgic pace made even more romantic by the soothing acoustic guitar riffs.
Almost indispensable to any McBride records, she has had her share of inspirational numbers. Just like her previous hits "Concrete Angel," "Anyway," "God's Will," McBride has again tried to delicately speak to life's situations via her songs. This time via "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" she deals with a woman in her late 30s coming to grips with having cancer. Though one cannot fault McBride on the sincerity of the song but it is somehow let down by the song's pretty pedantic big balladry predictable melody. "When You Love a Sinner" also touches on the darker side of a relationship as a woman deals with her relationship's deficiencies. Again McBride is let down by the song's pretty unimaginative melodic development. Nevertheless, McBride has to be congratulated for making her music relevant with "Teenage Daughters." A song that trumps with its realistic lyrics that most parents can relate to set on a contemporary radio tailored pop production. The same can be said of "You Can Get Your Loving Right Here"--an amalgam of 60s rock over a strutting, funky and sultry tune.
The album closes on a glowing note with the string-laden ballad "Long Distance Lullaby." Though the loneliness of being far from home is not novel to country music, the way McBride pours her heart out with sincere measures of sensitivity and pain is worth the album's price here. This is what McBride excels in. On the whole this album's weakest moments are those when McBride makes concession to radio. But on tracks where she just lets her hair down and sings to her heart's content, she is simply stunning. More than numbers, this is a record with material strong enough to lead McBride into a new chapter of her career with aplomb.
Lead single 'Teenage Daughters' should have been a much bigger hit than it was. A strong, unusual song that's clearly straight from the heart. I love the world-weary resignation in McBride's vocal! Second single 'I'm Gonna Love You Through It' won't be to everyone's taste but has a powerful message.
Perhaps it will be a surprise to many that there is a distinct lack of actual 'country' material on this CD. There are many styles from pop and rock to folk and there are a few trademark McBride ballads. The quality is outstanding throughout with only 'When You Love A Sinner' sounding a bit tired and cliched to my ears. But great upbeat tracks like 'One Night', 'Broken Umbrella' and 'Always Be This Way more than make up for that one lapse.
Now in her mid 40's, Martina probably won't garner the airplay and attention she did in her 'Wild Angels/Evolution' days, but 'Eleven' is an album that's pretty close to perfection and deserves a long chart life. It goes without saying that her vocals are as sublime as ever. She's one of the best female singers in the world to my ears and I'm always amazed she hasn't received more acclaim for her vocals.
'Eleven' is the best MB album since 'Emotion' in 1999. She's often been let down by sloppy, over-sentimental material but that has been corrected here, bigtime. I hope the album is the resounding success it deserves to be.
I learnt many years ago that certain artists, like Faith Hill and Martina require some audio investment (so, listen carefully and several times over). They are quality vocalists and with each listen you will pick up nuances and elements you had initially failed to process.
Martina, in my opinion should be recording traditional George-Strait-hardcore-country but she has consistently recording albums with too much pop-country and I do not think its necessarily down to her alone. The record companies are still (lesser so in the past few years) terrified to release music that is 'too country'.
So, is this album any good. Strip away the filler and you have some truly great music. Teenage Daughters is fantastic. A reviewer recently described it negatively referring to McBride's "whiny, exaggerated" singing. That is totally missing the point. It is her phrasing and style of delivery that makes the song work so well. She is a small lady but she can sure belt out a song!
Marry me is (aside from Martina's sweet, expressive vocals) a throw-away, stunningly boring duet with a singer called Pat Monahan who has a voice that is as country as a banker in a pin striped suit at a rodeo.
Broken Umbrella is an upbeat, mostly irritating song about someone who is in love and nothing else matters. Other than Taylor Swift, I can't think of a country artist who would ever want to be associated with this pop-nonsense.
'When You Love A Sinner' is classic McBride. Written by kasey Musgraves, a fantastic young country singer-songwriter who, in my opinion is as good as Miranda Lambert. It's almost getting towards being 'Independence Day' quality, although not quite. It's a grower.
'Watcha Gonna Do' showcases Martina's vocal power beautifully and she also co-wrote several tracks including the touching 'Long Distance Lullaby' which you can't help but assume is a reference to her life as a touring artist with young daughters.
This is a good album but it is not even close to 'Wild Angels' her best ever album from the mid 90's.