Martina McBride: Everlasting (review)

EverlastingI missed Martina McBride’s appearance at the recent Country to Country festival at the O2 in London – I’d decided not to buy tickets on the basis that there were too many male artists, and anyway, Ms McBride should have been headlining for chrissake.

A few years ago, Martina released a collection of country classics, Timeless, on which I wasn’t keen. She has a great voice, but the material wasn’t my kind of thing. I actually prefer the country music of Martina’s era.

A few albums later and she’s back with Everlasting, which this time is a collection of classic pop-soul numbers mainly from the 1960s. These were originally recorded by the likes of Aretha, Sam Cooke, Jimmy Ruffin, The Supremes, Otis Redding, and the Teddy Bears. For many, those who prize the originals above all else, it’s simply sacrilege to even attempt to cover these. But there’s no need for an either/or construction (as ever). You can have both, and why not?

Ms McBride has a powerful, clear voice, which has mostly been applied to the country genre, but here she proves she can do blue eyed soul with the best of them. The arrangements are fairly straightforward, but she makes each song her own, and the production (Don Was) is top notch. Her “Suspicious Minds” is performed at a slower tempo than Elvis’ (or Dwight Yoakam’s), but it works. Perhaps my favourite is her fairly straight take on “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”

The iTunes bonus tracks are Sade’s “By Your Side” and P!nk’s “Perfect” (with cleaned up lyrics).

This is a corking set that will likely introduce some people to some 50-year-old classics, which is no bad thing.

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