In the competitive music industry, longevity alone deserves recognition - especially when a career, like Reba McEntire's, spans more than 30 successful country albums.
But ongoing relevance over mere legacy is even harder to come by. With "All the Women I Am," McEntire accomplishes both.
Through these 10 tracks, McEntire reveals glimpses of her own life while opening a door to the challenges and accomplishments familiar to all women. The emotions of lost love are explored with brave fragility on "Cry" and with arena-rocking scorn in "Turn on the Radio." "When Love Gets A Hold of You" captures the sudden excitement of new love with a rumbling twang, while "Somebody's Chelsea" illustrates its undying possibilities.
The title track is a classic horn-driven Nashville rave-up led by McEntire's defiantly powerful vocals, but the album's stand-out performance comes from the slow-burning, tender cover of Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 9, 2010
Reba McEntire's new album, All the Women I Am, features a spirited rendition of Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy," which you can hear above, and which got us thinking again about the tricky nature of cross-genre cover songs. McEntire remains true to the song's melody, save the addition of her country twang, but adds spare acoustic plucks and a slide guitar to make it her own. More importantly, the song's questions of gender identity lose no meaning when sung by McEntire, especially on an album about womanhood. In other words, it's not a joke. And that's usually the problem with these things: "The appeal of these experiments, if any, is primarily comedic but while it's funny to hear white people over-enunciate black slang, the gag quickly wears thin," wrote Jonah Weiner at Slate on the subject. So who else has done it right? Well, Beyoncé, for one...
The diva took to infusing her own performances of "If I Were a Boy" with a section from Morissette's angsty 1995 smash. Though most Beyoncé albums don't feature much crushing, distorted guitar or swearing, what works here is her vocal strength and willingness to toss in bits of Morissette's own inflection. The professionalism of the arrangement keeps it from being funny, while the back-up singers' soulful handling of the pre-chorus highlights something you might have missed in the original, on account of Morissette's disturbed warble.
Known far and wide from the above advertisement, and probably more famous than the original, González's stripped-down version of The Knife's churning, electronic original does without percussion, allowing the beauty of the vocal melody and lyrics come through.
Like McEntire's cover, the Dixie Chicks don't do too much to disguise the Stevie Nicks original. In fact, none of the artists mentioned are too different (and all are liable to be found on your mother's iPod), but the freshness of the composition and additional instrumentation change the feel of the song enough to be considered cross-genre. And the vocal harmonies are ace.
It sounds like a gimmick, but it's really not. Like "Heartbeats," an aging Cash doing the Nine Inch Nails song gives the lyrics new life, re-contextualizing the message. But where González did it through music, Cash can rely on circumstance. Additionally, Cash's version may have reached a few people who weren't listening to Trent Reznor in 1994.
This one is obvious. Widely considered one of the best cover songs of all-time, Hendrix probably could have just laid down the opening guitar solo and called it a day. -- The Village Voice, November 10, 2010
Singer, actress, entrepreneur, designer, mother, step-mother, daughter, sister, wife, philanthropist ... Is there any hat that Reba doesn't wear? The Queen of Country Music has a lot going on outside of music! And that's just the way she likes it ...
The Boot sat down with Reba at her own Starstruck Studios on Nashville's Music Row, to talk about her appropriately-titled 34th studio album, 'All the Women I Am,' which hit stores November 9. In this exclusive video interview, the iconic entertainer opens up about her new project and all of her many roles in life ... including the one that always chokes her up.
'All the Women I Am' includes Reba's sassy current hit, 'Turn on the Radio,' along with her co-penned 'Somebody's Chelsea,' a countrified version of Beyonce's 'If I Were a Boy' and seven other tracks of empowerment, love and heartache -- all themes that have run throughout the Oklahoma native's illustrious, 34 year career. The limited deluxe edition of the project -- a CD/DVD combo -- includes four videos from Reba's AOL Music Sessions performance: 'Consider Me Gone,' 'Strange,' 'I Want a Cowboy' and Eight Crazy Hours (in the Story of Love), along with her CMT Unplugged performance of 'If I Were A Boy' and behind-the-scenes footage of the making of 'Turn On the Radio.' -- The Boot, November 9, 2010
The moon controls the tides, your taxes are due April 15th, and Reba McEntire is having hits on the country charts. These are some things we've become accustomed to. For her 26th studio album - and 2nd for the Valory Music Co. - Reba has enlisted the help of current hit-making producer Dan Huff, whose production credits run as deep as McEntire's own career, but is known in country circles for hits by Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, and Carrie Underwood. The ever-evolving redhead has kept it relevant for what is three decades now, and shows no real signs of wear and tear just yet. She effortlessly glides through the 10 tracks on this set, hitting spine-tingling notes when the need arises, and more often than not, nailing every emotional aspect of the lyrics with precision. The songs themselves are certainly a step above her current work, and reflect her maturity a little better. All the women that make up these characters are seasoned at life, looking back with hard-won wisdom or jumping head-first, all the while knowing the risks.
The title track is a jaunty, twangy trip into the psyche of an everywoman. Though it's mostly sewn together from the kind of empowerment statements usually reserved for bumper stickers - "I burn brighter than a candle but I melt in the right hands" - and the fact that it comes from a songwriting team of three men, it's hard to take it for more than a feel-good number without any real message. A jazzy saxophone solo at the end and lines like "I can light up New York city with my red hair and rhinestones" increase the fun-factor by two however. And in that regard, it can succeed. 'A Little Want To' follows the same sound template as the title track, yet offers even less in the lyrics, leaving it little more than an up-tempo jam with the guitars mixed way too loud.
`When Love Gets Ahold Of You' features the kind of soaring chorus you can almost sing along to on the first listen. But that's probably because it sounds like a hybrid of the past 4 pacy Keith Urban hits.`The Bridge You Burn' is another earworm, wherein a woman is discovering her own self worth after a bad relationship. Reba makes it hard to dislike either of these songs with engaging performances, but these kind of melodies always make you feel a bit guilty for enjoying them too much.
Reba's reading here of the Beyonce hit `If I Were A Boy' seems timid compared to her CMT Unplugged performance that was a viral video hit over the Summer. Pairing a voice like Reba's with a marvelous lyric like the gender-gap realizations of `If I Were A Boy' was a stroke of genius, and even without all the fancy vocal work of the live version, she does not disappoint. Then it's back to coasting through tracks like the album's closer `When You Have A Child' and `Somebody's Chelsea', written by Reba with Liz Hengber and Will Robinson, a sweet love song with the obligatory advice-from-a-wise-old-man. (Ever the jet-setter, Reba meets her wise old man on a plane.) Neither offers anything substantial besides a tug at the old heart-strings, and the singer's performance sounds like she knows these are filler songs.
The real stand-outs come when the songstress gets ahold of a lyric worthy of her talents. She does this best with `Cry' and `The Day She Got Divorced'. The first is vintage Reba, a strong woman weeper that quickly turns to power ballad mode, where it remains. `The Day She Got Divorced' is wickedly awesome in its frank storytelling. The story revolves around the activities of a woman on the day she goes to court to dissolve her marriage. We follow her to a motel where she continues an ongoing an affair with her boss and then on to a house that needs cleaned and is filled with "hungry-mouthed kids". It's full of great one-liners and features a funky guitar riff after reach repeat of the title line. Both songs come from the pens of Brandy Clark and Shane MacAnally, with Mark D. Sanders co-writing on `Divorced'.
An album full of gutsy, emotional songs like `Cry' and `Divorced' would have served the 55 year-old better than covers of recent pop hits side by side with fluffy radio-friendly fare, but Reba is obviously hell-bent on staying at the top of the hit-making heap. Certainly, a handful of these cuts could find their way to the top of the page of the country singles chart. As with the songs and themes found on All The Women I Am, the results are varied, but are more enjoyable than not.
Grade: B+ -- My Kind Of Country, November 9, 2010
While impossible to peel all of the layers that is entertainment mogul Reba McEntire, she's never been afraid to offer fans a glimpse into who she is. With "All The Women I Am," released Tuesday, McEntire has hand-delivered a magnifying glass.
After a re-energized first release on The Valory Music Co. that garnered two top 10s and the four-week No. 1 "Consider Me Gone," McEntire -- as always -- refused to rest on her laurels and found both the right songs and diverse emotions to create the most powerful and reflective album of her career. Whether it's a credit to producer Dan Huff or the continued energy felt with her new label, this is McEntire at her best.
"All The Women I Am" begins with the kiss-off single racing up the charts -- "Turn On Your Radio" -- filled with attitude and sass, both vocally and musically. It ends with a string-based anthem of parenthood in "When You Have A Child," featuring eloquent vocals to carefully capture the emotions felt during different stages of life. It's a song that could have been overproduced but instead has a more simplistic feel, allowing McEntire's vocals and Tom Douglas' lyrics to empower the message.
In between are eight tracks leading through a journey that feels like each song is removing another layer of who McEntire is, to quote CMA winner Blake Shelton's newest single, when no one else is looking.
The title track brings that theme to the forefront by acknowledging McEntire's ability to multi-task her career, life and celebrity while recognizing love as a priority. More specifically, the love of someone who accepts her as is, something all women desire but few find. The lyrics are strong, but it's McEntire's confidence and security that sells the strength. She believes every word, and it shows.
McEntire covers Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy" -- performed on Wednesday's CMAs and on CMT's "Unplugged" -- proving a great song is a great song in any format. With mature vocals, McEntire brings believability to the song, perfectly stretching the emotion of the chorus and dropping it back ever so deeply for a dynamic effect she's turned into an art.
Another highlight is "Somebody's Chelsea," co-written by McEntire and inspired by a scene from the film, "P.S. I Love You." McEntire rarely records her own songs but seems more confident in her writing abilities, which have grown immensely.
McEntire sings a beautiful tale about a widower and the desire to be loved as deeply as the man loved his Chelsea. "Somebody's Chelsea" was written in a newer style than we've seen from her, which is just as impressive as being able to feel McEntire smile each time she sings the title -- a sweet nod to a family member.
Fans will also take note of "A Little Want To," a fun, uptempo, motivational lift, as well as "Cry," a delicate song about all the ways to hide the pain of heartache. The only questionable track is "The Day She Got Divorced." Unlike the other cuts, it doesn't really go anywhere lyrically. McEntire brings a "Harper Valley PTA" feel vocally that's entertaining, but there's no revelation in the lyrics -- something that's become a trademark of all McEntire albums. Pinned between two great uptempo songs, it will become a track longtime fans relish and newcomers appreciate later.
In one lifetime, McEntire has flourished in three separate careers - artist, actress and businesswoman. In one album, she blends different aspects of each to showcase the emotion life, love and everything in between has to offer. What's left is a feeling that McEntire may be a mogul, but she's also just like every other woman. Despite all of her triumphs, McEntire is still the most relatable artist in all of music. "All The Women I Am" confirms that. -- Norfolk Daily News, November 11, 2010