Amid another country radio comeback, Reba McEntire flaunts her many strengths -- and occasional weaknesses -- on her new CD, All the Women I Am.
When the Oklahoma-born redhead transforms Beyoncé's pop hit If I Were a Boy into a country ballad, and when she underscores the tension between inner strength and heartbreak on Cry, McEntire proves once again how masterfully she communicates the emotional complexity of a dramatic story-song.
But McEntire never simply relies on what she does well; she always challenges herself to stay contemporary. On her current hit Turn on the Radio and the title song, McEntire handles the aggressively modern arrangements just fine. But the contrived lyrics waste the powerful performances she gives them.
Still, the majority of All the Women I Am nicely balances uptempo tunes like When Love Gets a Hold of You with timeless ballads like The Day She Got Divorced. At age 55, McEntire remains a powerhouse who tends to err by trying harder than necessary to show her range.