George Strait, 'Love Is Everything': Track-by-Track Review

87 Billboard Rating

In a career that has seen five of his albums win the CMA Album of the Year trophy, a new release from George Strait is always a cause for celebration.

But, in the case of "Love Is Everything," it truly is an album worth giving a listen to, and then, and then again. In fact, it definitely ranks as Strait's best album since 2008's "Troubadour."

What sets the new album apart? Strait and longtime producer Tony Brown have assembled incredible material – which granted, is a given with a Strait album. But, just like with the Troubadour release, the songs here touch a few nerves and hit a few more emotional spots than just merely the ups and downs of a male-female relationship. There's "I Believe," a song co-written by the singer, that puts his faith on display as never before, and the closing "When The Credits Roll," which might give the singer one more chance at a CMA Single of the Year trophy. The lyrics of the latter are quite thought-provoking, concerning what kind of impact one's life has on others.

At the same time, George Strait singing about love has always been a guaranteed hit, and there are several that have the potential to be huge - "Sittin' On The Fence," "When Love Comes Around Again," and "I Got A Car."

All in all, Love Is Everything will be a quick favorite of many of Strait' fans, and if you haven't bought a Strait release in a few years, this might be the one!

1. I Got A Car – Simple and to the point, or so you might think. But the song goes a little deeper as the lyrics roll along. He handles the emotion of throwing it all to the wind rather effectively.

2. Give It All We Got Tonight – Already a top ten hit, the song is pure George Strait romance – and who does it better?

3. Blue Melodies – Strait borrows from the forlorn sound of a Jones or a Haggard on this cut that literally aches by the second.

4. I Just Can't Go On Dyin' Like This – Originally recorded by the Hall of Famer before signing with MCA, fans might remember the original being included on his 1995 Strait Out Of The Box set. Strait slows it down, and gives it more of a mournful feel, to make it sound like something Gene Watson or Moe Bandy could have hit with in 1978.

5. I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing – One of our favorite Strait hits was "Adalida," and the Texan returns to the Cajun well again with a song that has a lot of pep and snap to it. Should be danced to a lot in the Lone Star State.

6. That's What Breaking Hearts Do – The track sounds like something that would have been perfectly in place on one of George's classic 1990s albums like Lead On or Carrying Your Love With Me. The chorus has a definite sing-along quality.

7. When Love Comes Around Again – A hopeful look at love, and giving it another chance once again. It's a cut that could have been included on any of his previous discs.

8. The Night Is Young – The most radio-ready of all the cuts here. This will definitely be a single, as it could be a new weekend anthem – something programmers are always looking for.

9. Sittin' On The Fence – Once you've been burned in a relationship, it's tough to hit the green light again – even if you have found the one, and you know it. Another definite single that should have a lot of staying power on the airwaves.

10. Believe – On this album, Strait shows a few different moods, and it's kind of rare to hear him at such a despondent place. At the same time, that fear is lifted by his faith in a higher power – which helps gets him through the rough waters.

11. Love Is Everything – A well written song about all the emotions that love can make you feel. Strait handles the irony part of this track in wonderful fashion. It's not always roses and sunshine, though sometimes it is. The harmony on this one is particularly first-rate.

12. You Don't Know What You're Missing – Lyrically, Strait fans might think of his prior chart-topper "I Hate Everything," but this cut is a bit more old-school sounding, and the chorus is absolutely heartbreaking. If you've ever had too much time or space on your hands, you will identify.

13. When The Credits Roll – There are many similarities between the careers of George Strait and Conway Twitty. Late in his career, Twitty took a few more chances on songs like "That's My Job" that he might not have done a decade before. The same could be said of Strait and this brilliant masterpiece. It likely wouldn't have worked in 1988, 1996, or 2005...but having had a life to look back on, Strait gives this track one of the best readings of his career. 2014 CMA Song of the Year? All MCA Nashville has to do is release it.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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