Nothing to brag about

May 23, 2007, midnight | By Kate Harter | 16 years, 9 months ago

McBride fails to impress with her new album

Singing country music comes with a stereotype: the tragic inability to escape honky-tonk, badonk-a-donk and that B-B-Q stain on a white t-shirt. Veteran country singer Martina McBride, whose latest album, "Waking Up Laughing" hit stores April 3, can't seem to override the trash talking.

With nine albums, four Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year awards and a Grammy nomination under her belt, McBride should have learned by now that her powerful voice and array of musical instruments for her tracks can lend themselves to something new, but she sticks to the same old themes that may please the country-loving population while boring the rest.

"Anyway," the first single off McBride's album, was built to be inspired and original, with lyrics like, "You can love someone with all your heart/For all the right reasons/In a moment they can choose to walk away/Love 'em anyway." Sadly, this song is anything but fresh and motivating. In fact, the whole album is rife with these trite uplifting ballads; and now it's not only stale—it's boring.

There is a sprinkling of tracks that are not only easy on the ears but also put together well on "Waking Up Laughing," but nothing that strays from the original country mold. "How I Feel," the second single, proves itself as one of the better songs, with excellent guitar, drum beat and moving lyrics, but it is plagued with the same hackneyed theme of love that smothers half of the songs on the album.

For Keith Urban fans, "Tryin' to Find a Reason" is a poignant addition to the album, because McBride invited the ladies' man himself to sing backup and play guitar for the track. Surprise, surprise, this song is about lost love, but it's much better to have another vocal to backup McBride's high, pretty-girl voice. Lines like, "We tried everything, everything but goodbye," sound much stronger with Urban's underlying bass.

Most of the cuts here have nothing to either rave or rant about; they're just more insipid country songs that we've all heard before. Though McBride is able to put together some well-written songs, she is unable to stray from the lovey-dovey country-girl label slapped onto female country singers, and shouldn't expect any newcomers to be compelled by her lack of an original and fresh new sound.

Martina McBride's "Waking up Laughing," out April 3, is available now

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