There should never be a point in an artist's career when he/she stops taking risks. Seasoned country music veteran Martina McBride walked away from her brand new set, Eleven, fully knowing that she took as many creative leaps as possible. Tackling pop, R&B, and a touch of reggae, Eleven, McBride's 11th studio album, is a fresh assertion that her career is skyrocketing into a brand new direction.
"One Night," a track cowritten by McBride with Tommy Lee James and Claude Kelly, is a song detailing exactly how McBride feels walking out onstage. Die-hard fans will be thrilled to know that this song is dedicated to them. With its anthemic appeal, "Night" charges full speed in all the McBride glory. Vocally, she is at her best, and as the first of six penned McBride tunes on Eleven, "Night" kicks off a solid set as a downright superb concert opener.
Taking cues from Jason Mraz and Train, McBride explores the ukulele on "Always Be This Way." The track, written by McBride, Brett James, and Hillary Lindsey, is a "breezy, playful, and fun" perspective on love. Unlike her previous work, McBride takes a real creative risk with the arrangement and produces a pop radio-friendly ditty. McBride has experienced very little (if any) crossover success, but "Always" could be a huge breakout for the 40-something crooner.
It would not be a McBride album without a socially conscious and emotionally stirring song. With "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," written by Ben Hayslip, Sonya Isaacs, and Jimmy Yeary, McBride revists the magical storytelling she is most famous for. Much like "Independence Day," her signature song released in 1994, "Love" cuts to the gut and sparks a new awareness of how cancer affects the caregivers. Dripping with sincerity, McBride serves up windy and mountainous vocals that could melt the coldest heart. The accompanying video for "Love," which features real people who have survived or been a victim, including Katie Couric, reveals the harsh reality of the disease but provides an inspirational message.
"Marry Me," a Train original, is a duet between McBride and Train lead singer Pat Monahan, which was first performed on CMT's Crossroads. By adding McBride's soothing voice, "Marry Me" morphs into a whole new song as two lovers trying to get up the nerve to talk to one another. Monahan's pop vocals are an intriguing balance to McBride's, and once both come together at the end, a milky and delicious dessert is created.