My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Reba McEntire – ‘Just A Little Love’

Just A Little LoveReba McEntire’s rise to fame was slow. She had her first #1 hit, “Can’t Even Get The Blues” in 1982, five years after her debut album was released. Reba McEntire, her self-titled debut didn’t even chart on the Country Albums Chart, nor did her following two albums. It wasn’t until 1981’s Heart To Heart she actually charted an album. Her first top-ten hit was a bit before that though, “(You Lift Me) Up To Heaven” peaked in 1980. When it became clear that she was leaving Mercury, the label she had been with since her signing in 1975, the label did as labels often do; they didn’t really bother with promoting her end of contract album Behind The Scene (See Trisha Yearwood’s Jasper County).

She left Mercury for MCA, and released her debut for the label in 1984. Just A Little Love was more of a soft pop album than a real country record, and Reba, dissatisfied with the end result went on to release My Kind Of Country later that year, an album that yielded her two #1, and is somewhat considered to be her breakthrough album. Things didn’t fare as well with the album’s predecessor Just A Little Love though. It produced two singles, the title track which was a top five hit, and “He Broke Your Memory Last Night”, a top fifteen hit. Reba’s lack of satisfaction with the album is however, just plain dumb according to me.

As I made clear before, this isn’t much of a country record. The records starts off gently with the title track, a soft, romantic ballad about everyday love, and how it can haul you through the stressful life that so many of us live these days. Surely one of Reba’s best tunes, and one of my favorite happy songs as well. The next track, “Poison Sugar”, picks up the tempo with a peculiar melody that’ll certainly get stuck in your head. Reba is warning the ladies in town not to be fooled by a man whom she refers to as “Poison Sugar”. She tells a tale of how she’s gotten over a man in the brilliant “I’m Gettin’ Over You”, only to reveal to us that she hasn’t moved on a single inch from where she was years ago when she was with him. The happy, up-tempo melody only adds to the song’s irony.

The next track is a definite winner at weddings. “You Are Always There For Me” tells a story of a woman thanking a person for being her rock and best friend, and could fit both in romantic and non-romantic settings. “Every Second Someone Breaks A Heart” is, as the title suggest, a very depressing song of how no one is punished for “the saddest crime of all”, which is breaking a heart. A strong, well written track with an awesome guitar-solo in the middle. “Tell Me What’s So Good About Goodbye” is a heartbreaking ballad about, well, goodbye. This kind of song is the area Reba is a true master in, giving a vocal that’s understated and on the verge of tears. “He Broke Your Memory Last Night”, the album’s second and final single is a song that deals with the past and finally moving on from it. “If Only” is another sad ballad, as is “Congratulations”. Both are prime examples of the best country has to offer, if the arrangement had been slightly tweaked to include some fiddles and steel. They are instead prime examples of how brilliant pop music can be.

The album closes with the only real country track here, a track about freedom and the ability to soar, and Just A Little Love does exactly that. It soars the entire time throughout these ten brilliant tunes.

Vocally, Reba is in the best shape of her life on this stellar collection of songs. Her performances are very understated, yet manage to give off a lot of power at the same time. If that’s not incredible, I don’t know what is.

In short, this brilliant set of pop tunes was criminally overlooked when it was released. Now you can make up for the sins of the past by buying it now!

Buy Just A Little Love.

Go! Fetch! Now!

A+

Listen to “I’m Gettin’ Over You (Live)”.

3 responses to “Album Review: Reba McEntire – ‘Just A Little Love’

  1. Kevin J. Coyne December 27, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I used to have this CD. I’ve always been a big fan of “He Broke Your Memory Last Night.” I think that if Reba and Jimmy Bowen had produced this set, the quality of the songs would’ve been more obvious. This was the last of the records where Reba was forced to sing in an unnatural way, suppressing the curlicues that would become her signature style. She could go back and nail a lot of these songs.

  2. J.R. Journey December 27, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    I’ve always thought Reba should go back and re-record a lot of her 80s material.

    Excellent write-up, Erik. Even if you do have a little more love for this release than I do …

  3. Paul W Dennis February 20, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Actually, I’ve always felt that Reba should re-record her post -1990 stuff using a real band like Asleep At The Wheel instead of that jive-country-pop style she’s been using

    I purchased JUST A LITTLE LOVE on cassette when it first came out. and later got it on CD. I’d give it a B+ .

    I do think MY KIND OF COUNTRY was the better album

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