Music Review: Reba McEntire shines on 'Love Somebody'

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Reba McEntire, "Love Somebody" (Starstruck/Nash Icon/Big Machine)

"Love Somebody" is Reba McEntire's best album of the 21st century because it draws on her strengths: That is, subtly and powerfully interpreting substantial story songs about adult relationships set to contemporary country music.

At 60, the performer — she bills herself by her first name these days — remains a remarkable vocalist, capable of stunning ferocity and dramatic nuance. She's one of the great traditional country singers of her time, but she prefers pushing herself to stay current. Always ambitious, she errs only when she tries to appeal to radio with material that's too lightweight for her talent and maturity.

"Love Somebody" strikes a perfect blend, especially on songs like "She Got Drunk Last Night," written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, and the title song, co-written by Sam Hunt, which finds McEntire rising to a challenge of mixing tongue-twisting stanzas with a testifying chorus.

Other highlights include a duet with Jennifer Nettles on "Enough," dealing with a partner who leaves her feeling like she's not worth the effort he puts into the rest of his life, and the emotional ballad "Just Like Them Horses," a tribute to her rodeo champion father, written by friends Liz Hengber and Tommy Lee James.

With "Love Somebody," McEntire proves she still has far too much to say to rest on her laurels.