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George Strait

It Just Comes Natural

Review by Gary Hill

Anyone who has followed MSJ for a while will know that I’m not a huge fan of country music. The truth is until a few years ago I didn’t like the genre at all. Over the years of being a music journalist, though, I’ve learned that there is really good and bad in every genre. When someone is committed to their art and let’s their true spirit shine through, any music has its merits. The truth is, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of country music. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of it out there that I don’t think is worth much, but on the other hand, there are a lot of artists putting their heart and soul into a tried and true American art form and making it work. George Strait is one such man. His music (with the exception of one or two songs on this disc) steers clear of the trend to turn country music into some generic pop style and keeps it real. That is a good thing. While there are places on this disc where it gets a bit too twangy for my tastes, this is really a strong disc and very listenable. It is without question recommended to fans of real country music – with no reservations. Those who are wanting to experience this art form at its most authentic will also find a lot to like about this disc. There are really only a couple of tracks that leave me a bit dry (and one of this is more because of the similarity to the other material than due to any weakness on its part). I wouldn’t say that this will make m list of favorite CD’s, but I will say that I like it quite a bit. That’s actually high praise coming from a reformed country music hater like myself. It’s a long personal recovery period on my part, but with getting to appreciate discs like this it’s well worth the effort.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Give It Away
This one kicks off with a killer picked guitar introduction. As it drops to the song proper an old school, folky country texture takes it. The first verse, and selected lines throughout the song are spoken for good effect. This one is a traditional country ballad and a nice change from the pop dominated country that seems to be all over the airways. It includes tasty guitar and fiddle solos. Strait’s performance comes across as natural and genuine.
She Told Me So
With a country gospel texture this is a bit too twangy for my tastes, but still it has a lot of credit going out to it for turning in such a traditional old time country sound in the era of pop music being passed off as country.
That's My Kind of Woman
This has more of that folk type country sound. It’s still worlds away from the modern country sound, but also stretches far from the twangy sort of down home sound. This is a pretty ballad and one of my favorites on the disc. When this shifts into the more energized segment later there is really a lot of power and emotion to Strait’s performance.
Here we get sort of a slow honky tonk number. While it’s full of twang, I like that sound a lot more in a more rocking cut like this than on a ballad. This one is another effective piece of music that contributes to a solid album. The chorus is very catchy. I’d have to say that I really like both the slide guitar and the “fiddle” work on this one.
It Just Comes Natural
This is a piece that’s a bit closer to modern country, but the rocking variety. This is a vaguely bluesy, hard rocking jam that’s quite cool. It’s another of my favorites on show here. There is enough of Strait showing through on this to keep it from feeling like the overproduced pop variety of the genre.
He Must Have Hurt You Really Bad
Strait turns away from the guitar-dominated song here for this piano based ballad. While there is still guitar in the song, and it comes to a higher level of prominence as the track moves forward, the change up is a good touch. This is a touching piece of music, emotionally powerful and another highlight. In fact, this might be my favorite tune on the whole CD.
Heart Like Hers
This one has almost a tropical texture on the introduction. It’s another pretty ballad that showcases folk and country elements in a powerful combination that works quite well. This is another standout.
Why Can't I Leave Her Alone?
Now it’s time for the hoe-down with this mid tempo jam. They pound it in fairly hard, but then drop it down to the balladic modes to carry it on. While this has a definite down home texture it still works pretty well for my tastes.
One Foot In Front of the Other
We get some serious country boogie on this scorcher. This frantic number is another of the highlights on show here. It’s a good time fun track.
I Ain't Her Cowboy Any More
Back to balladic cycles, this one is among the slowest and most sedate parts of the disc. It’s a heartfelt piece where Strait again feels very genuine. It’s a pretty song with a melancholy texture. I like this one a lot, too.
Texas Cookin'
This is another swinging jam. It’s got a lot of hoe down, but also a lot of jazz and blues thrown into the mix. This is another fun one.
Better Rain
Strait drops it back to the slow ballad approach for this one. It’s another effective one, but by this late in the CD seems to be a bit weak in comparison to some of the other material. That’s a shame because taken by itself this is really a strong cut. It’s just that this format is getting a bit redundant by now. The truth is, this might be the best one of its kind on the album.
How Bout Them Cowgirls
The pace is picked up here on this mid-tempo track. I have to say that the music on this one seems to suffer a bit from the modern country sound. Still Strait’s vocal performance is legit enough to keep it real. I’d have to say that this is one of the weaker tracks on show here, but the chorus is still pretty strong. It just seems like the producer (although since this is co-produced by Tony Brown and Strait it might be Strait’s idea) should have left well enough alone on this one. It would have made for a stronger track. The strings later in the song are over the top, really putting a nail in the coffin for this one from my point of view.
What Say
A slower, more old school country ballad with a healthy dosage of gospel brings this one back on the map. This still has a guitar basis, but also includes a good amount of piano in the mix.
Come On Joe
The closer here starts out a bit oddly with a Hammond B3. As it carries on it takes on a faster, bouncing tempo and becomes a strong old school country number. This is a good song and works reasonably well to end the disc.
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