My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Martina McBride – ‘Reckless’

71DYXrOa+jL._SX522_Martina McBride has been suffering from a bad case of the dulls for about a decade now. 2005’s Timeless was her last worthwhile effort and I have to admit that I pretty much wrote her off after that. The mere fact that we’ve waited a full month to review her latest album is a testimony to how low our expectations were. In fairness, though, the new album is an improvement over all of her recent output, albeit only slightly.

Reckless — a rather tame and subdued affair despite its title — is her debut release for the recently formed Nash Icon Records. The imprint, a joint venture between Big Machine and Cumulus Media, was formed to give a home to veteran artists so that they no longer had to compete with newer acts for radio airplay. The idea was to create a new radio format for these displaced veterans, and to give them the artistic freedom to record what they wanted without having to worry about chasing the latest trends. The problem is that the radio format never really took off and none of the artists on the Nash Icon roster seem to be doing anything differently from before. McBride partnered up with producers Nathan Chapman and Dann Huff, which pretty much guaranteed that nothing new,innovative or very country-sounding was going to result.

Reckless does contain a handful of decent songs, which are unfortunately ruined by heavy-handed, synthesizer-laden production. In its better moments it is somewhat reminiscent of Evolution, which remains one of my favorite McBride albums, but even those moments don’t quite reach the lofty heights of that 1997 masterpiece. The title track, which serve as the album’s first single, gets the album off to a good start. It’s a catchy number that I really like; I just wish the intrusive background vocals had been left off. “Low All Afternoon”, my favorite track, is a very nice ballad about “the other woman” who comes out on the losing side when she forces her lover to choose between her and his fiancee. It features a nice steel guitar solo, but like “Reckless”, it is marred by “oohing and ahhing” background vocals. “The Real Thing” is a better than average “laundry list” song, on which guest Buddy Miller’s harmony vocals are drowned out by the overly loud electric guitars. “We’ll Pick Up Where We Left Off” is one of the album’s quieter selections. It’s a decent song, again marred by the background vocals and annoying handclaps. The closing track “You and You Alone” is torchy and totally non-country piano ballad that nicely showcases Martina’s beautiful vocals.

The rest of the album, including “Diamond”, featuring the always boring Keith Urban, is not worth mentioning in any great detail.

Reckless exceeded my admittedly low expectations. It’s more AC than country and not particularly interesting but it’s still better than anything Martina has released in quite a long time.

Grade: B-

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3 responses to “Album Review: Martina McBride – ‘Reckless’

  1. Paul W Dennis June 7, 2016 at 6:36 am

    Heard Martina on the Opry last Saturday – she sounded dreadful – out of tune and off pitch
    Has she lost her voice ?

    I have not heard the new album but if it sounds anything like she sounded at the Opry, then this is a must to avoid

    • Razor X June 7, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Maybe she was having a bad night …. her voice sounds fine on the album. My issues are just with the production and some of the material.

  2. Chris Banner August 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I totally agree with you that Martina has sort of disappeared into an oblivion of boring torch songs and seems to be making album after album of them.

    I disagree however that her last output worth bothering with was Timeless. I actually think 2009’s Shine was one of her most consistent albums, and liked what Huff did with the production on that record.

    That said, Everlasting, Reckless and Eleven are basically all the same dreary album with barely a hook to be seen among them….real shame as we all know what Martina can do with a vocal.

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