A legend strives on

The Road Less Traveled (MCA)
George Strait

By Rob Greenwell

You can always count on George Strait to put together a good album, but The Road Less Traveled goes above and beyond the call of duty. A Strait album typically has a couple of good ballads, a couple of swing tunes and a couple of two-steps, but unlike his last two, One Step at a Time and Always Never the Same, it is clear that Strait and producer Tony Brown took their time with this `pure country' project, intent upon adding a high gloss to Strait's already legendary status.

So assured of Strait's ability is Brown that he picked a slow tune, "She'll Leave You With a Smile," for the opener. The first single, "Run," is a very well-written ballad that fits Strait's vocal ability perfectly. (Better yet, it's not a pop country ballad.) In keeping with the recent rebellion by the "real country" artists and industry people still left in Nashville, "Real Thing", a Chip Taylor song, takes a shot at the "cookie cutter" country music that many artists are releasing. This song has the best line that I have heard in a while: "When Sun was more than daylight, shinin' on Memphis, Tennessee," referring to the great Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Shawn Camp and John Scott Sherrill contribute "The Middle of Nowhere," a Buffett-esque tune that sounds like they were knocking back Tequila shots while writing it.

The album's only low points are, ironically, the title track of the album, "The Road Less Traveled," and the last cut on the album, Merle Haggard's "My Life's Been Grand." "The Road Less Traveled" is a well-written song, but the lyrics are what make this song, not the disappointing melody. Dean Dillon is a better songwriter than that. As for the Haggard tune, I respect the fact that he wants to pay his respects to one of his heroes, but he didn't need to waste a track telling everyone that he's been lucky in his life.

We knew that already and are happier for it.