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Music Review: Reba McEntire – Love Revival

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Grammy-award winning country music singer Reba McEntire’s first-ever Valentine’s Day CD, Love Revival, is filled with a great mix of old favorites and new songs. Debuting on January 2, 2008, the CD was available exclusively at Hallmark stores as part of an incentive program. The gift and card company has done the same thing with other artists over the year.

Born in McAlester, Oklahoma, McEntire has been a powerhouse of entertainment. Besides singing chart-busting songs, Reba has starred in movies (including Tremors, voicework in Charlotte’s Web, Buffalo Girls), theater (Annie Get Your Gun and South Pacific), and in her own TV series (Reba, which was the highest-rated sitcom for the WB and CW networks). She’s never been one to let the grass grow.

No matter what her other interests are, Reba never neglects her music or her fans. She just seems to manage to crowd more hours into the day than anyone else can. And she brings the same intensity, high-energy, and positive outlook everywhere she goes.

I grew up in Oklahoma and was aware of her career from the beginning. She’s done a lot of different things over the years, but I’ve never seen Reba really change from her roots. I think she’s gone a lot farther than she – and probably others – would have thought she would in areas outside country music, but she’s gone there with the same good heart that I’ve always seen in her.

Surprisingly, when Reba got ready to put the Valentine’s Day special together, she – and the producers – discovered that she really hadn’t done that many traditional love songs. Her milieu has always been mixed and her message hasn’t focused on romance. She found six songs that fit what Hallmark wanted and that she felt would represent her well, then had to find four more.

The CD kicks off with “Love Revival,” a bluesy rockabilly kind of song with a beat that made me  instantly start tapping the steering wheel. It’s one of those songs you just immediately get lost in, a mindlessly cheerful tune that can buoy you throughout the day.

The tempo slows down with “You Must Really Love Me” and gives Reba’s magnificent vocals a chance to shine. It’s another one of those songs that had me singing along, and goes to show how much of this CD is perfect accompaniment for driving.

“Bad For My Own Good” is the first of the four new releases on this CD. I have to admit, it seems strange finding a song on a Reba album that I haven’t heard played often on the radio, so I found myself sitting and listening to this one. Reba delivers a smoky, bluesy performance that bleeds emotion. The background singers provide just the right amount of resonance that pulled me totally into the song.

The duet Reba sung with Vince Gill that stayed at #1 for two weeks on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs is the fourth song. I’ve always liked the ballad and its aching message. It fits the album perfectly and the quality is great.

“Love Needs A Holiday” bumps the tempo up again and sounds a bit naughty at the beginning. It’s easy to get the wrong idea, but the chorus quickly sets things to right. It’s a fun song with a humorous view of real life, and the chorus is easy to pick up after the first presentation.

The piano work at the beginning of the second new song for the album, “With You I Am” is deft and amazing, quietly and quickly bringing the listener to Reba’s heart-felt vocals. The song is new to Reba, one of those she had reviewed at one time but didn’t include on an album. Personally, I think if she’d released it at an earlier day she would have done well with it. But we have it now.

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for “Somebody.”. I first became acquainted with the song during the video release on CMT. Reba stars as a waitress in the video, but the song is just awesome for the singer’s vocals. I think she could pull this one off a cappella, but the music underscores the emotions perfectly.

“Forever Love” is a pretty song, and Reba delivers it with earnest angst. Her voice in this one is a finely tuned instrument, and she plays it beautifully.

“Big Blue Sky,” the third new song, carries some lightweight rock overtones that drive the music. It’s easy to imagine Reba playing this one in concert. There’s enough story included in the lyrics that I found myself listening closely and feeling hopeful by the end of the song.

The guitar solo at the beginning of “I’ll Still Be Loving You” is plaintive and quiet, and it drew me right in. Reba’s delivery of the song is pure, innocent, and sweet. Then, when she kicks into the chorus, her voice swells and fills the sound system. The song was a #1 hit for Restless Heart back in 1987, so the familiarity with the tune is a natural. I found myself singing along with Reba almost from the beginning. There wasn’t a better choice to wrap the CD with, because the song offers hopeful sweetness, melancholy, and a chance to close out the performances singing with Reba.

Overall, I’d recommend Love Revival by Reba McEntire as a great addition to music you take along for commutes or vacation. It has an easy listening sound and is a good overall emotional connection with songs just for fun as well as a touch of grounding melancholy that makes you think.

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