My Kind of Country

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Album Review: Martina McBride – ‘The Time Has come’

timehascomeUnlike her contemporaries Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride did not burst onto the scene with a big commercial splash. Her 1992 debut was barely noticed and many country fans did not discover her until her much more successful sophomore effort was released the following year. Those who went back and listened to her first album were likely surprised at the difference in musical style. The Time Has Come is a much more traditional sounding album than most of her subsequent work.

Produced by Ed Seay and Paul Worley, The Time Has Come produced three singles. The title track was the highest charting, peaking at #23, while “That’s Me” and “Cheap Whiskey” both peaked outside the Top 40. Despite being the biggest hit, the title track is the weakest of the three. “That’s Me” is a beautifully performed ballad that might have gained some traction if it had been recorded by a more established artist. “Cheap Whiskey”, written by Emory Gordy, Jr. and Jim Rushing, is an excellent number about a relationship ruined by alcoholism. The song’s lyrics don’t directly address why the relationship ended, but it is presumed that the protagonist’s wife left him because of his drinking. The video, however, took a different interpretation and depicted the wife as being shoved into a car by her drunken husband and then killed in an accident. The powerful clip is the first time we get to see Martina’s impact as a video artist, something that would not be fully appreciated until “Independence Day” was released a few years later. However, even backing vocals from Martina’s mentor Garth Brooks couldn’t propel a song with such somber subject matter up the charts. It was later covered by Patty Loveless on her first Mountain Soul album.

It’s a shame that this album didn’t perform better commercially. Had it been released a few years earlier, before the New Tradtionalist movement was in decline, it might have fared better. Rarely since then have we heard Martina’s traditional side; I would have liked to have heard more from her in the vein of “That’s Me”, “I Can’t Sleep”, “Losing You Feels Good”, and “True Blue Fool”, which is one of the best songs on the album, edged out only by Gretchen Peters’ lovely “When You Are Old”, which is the closing track. It is a beautifully crafted “till death do us part” promise that probably wasn’t considered to be radio-friendly enough to be released as a single. Peters later recorded the tune herself and included it on her 1996 album The Secret of Life.

Solid effort though it is, The Time Has Come does have a couple of weak spots; the title track is not one of my favorites and “Walk That Line” is pure filler. Neither is terrible, however, and neither detracts from the overall enjoyment of the album. Cheap copies are readily available and well worth seeking out, especially for those who may not have heard most the album’s non-single cuts.

Grade: A-