Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reba McEntire, "When Love Gets a Hold of You"

Though Reba recently seemed to have reclaimed her hitmaker status on country radio, her chart record hit a nasty bump when her cover of Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" stalled disappointingly outside the Top 20.  Follow-up release "When Love Gets a Hold of You" is a safe middle-of-the-road offering that will likely restore Reba to chart domination.  It's not good, and it's not bad.  Nothing about it will shock or surprise country radio's audience, or frighten radio programmers away from giving it endless airplay.

The lyrics are anchored by at least some form of a narrative, but weighed down by a plodding melody, and by all the little cliches that keep popping up.  It's basically an uninteresting way of saying 'You just wait.  You'll grow to love me eventually.'  You'd think a soon-to-be Country Music Hall of Famer with a 30-year career behind her would have more to say than that.  The track is thoroughly leveled by a bland, murky, typical Dann Huff arrangement.  Even as talented a vocalist as Reba is, the depth and color in her voice doesn't shine through when surrounded by such a generic mix of drum and guitar punctuated by the obligatory steel guitar fills.

It's understandable that Reba is concerned with remaining commercially viable at this late point in her career, but commercial success should not come at the expense of making music that's actually interesting - especially not for an artist of Reba's stature.  At the very best, "When Love Gets a Hold of You" may supply Reba with one more Top 10 hit to add onto her lengthly resume, but it will be quickly forgotten thereafter.  One thing is for sure:  If Reba had built her entire career on material like this, she would not be the legend that she is today.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)