With a total of 60 Billboard No. 1 singles (more than Elvis Presley, more than The Beatles), George Strait has made it all seem effortless. His 29th studio album, which the singer co-produced with Chuck Ainlay, will likely add to that tally.
Cold Beer Conversation, out Friday, comes on the heels of the King of Country’s Sept. 22 announcement that the cowboy who rode away from touring last year will ride back in again in 2016 with a string of dates in Las Vegas.
As the album name implies, in Strait’s world, there’s not a lot that a cool libation won’t cure -- or at least help erase sorrows temporarily. In twangy “Going Going Gone,” his everyman -- they don’t hand out stock options down here in the pits, he sings -- seeks refuge in an open tab down at the corner bar. On the zydeco-tinged “Stop and Drink,” Strait contemplates the bigger questions, such as climate change and Wall Street shenanigans, before realizing such thinking is getting him nowhere. The liquor (and a very tasty pedal steel solo) bridges the gap between “wish you were here” and “wish you well” on “Wish You Well.” The loping, finger-popping, humorous “Cheaper Than A Shrink,” espouses why a case of beer may be a better salve than any analyst’s couch (complete with a belch at the end). And on the gentle title track and current single, some good old boys try to unravel the mysteries of women and “this crazy old world” with the help of a brew or five or six.