When a singer is forty years into a musical career that has produced more top ten hits than any other woman on the country chart and she’s tied with Dolly Parton for the most #1 singles by a woman, it’s hard for songs to sound original.
But, on her 27th studio album, “Love Somebody”, Reba McEntire sounds original and familiar at the same time.
In its first week, “Love Somebody”, Reba’s first new album since late 2010’s “All The Women I Am”, debut at the top of the Country Album chart and at #3 on the Billboard 200 (a ranking of all musical genres) selling 62,000 copies.
This is her 12th number one country album and her ninth Top Ten album on the Billboard 200.
The first single, “Going Out Like That”, is now up to #25 on the Billboard Country Singles chart.
“Love Somebody” comes in two versions: a standard 12-song album and a deluxe Target exclusive that features two additional songs.
Hopefully when you bought the album or you buy it, you give yourself time to listen to it without interruptions.
When I listened to it for the first time, I was driving and got only two or three songs into the album before real life forced me to start listening to it again later.
That was a disservice to Reba’s efforts on the album and for my listening pleasure. Because of that, at first listen, I thought the album felt disjointed. That is far from the truth.
Upon devoting proper time to my idol’s heartfelt gift to her fans, I realized how much the album is classic Reba and how much I’ve missed hearing new music from her.
While the first single, “Going Out Like That”, which kicks off the album, was released four months ago and is slowly gaining traction at country radio, there’s no talk publicly of the second single.
As you explore the album for possibilities, the clear cut winner would be, “Enough”, the second cut on the album, which is a duet with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland.
This song tells the story of a married woman hoping her man finds enough about her to stay while “the other woman” is hoping for the same thing.
Earlier when I said the album sounds original and “familiar” at the same time, “Enough” will have you flashing back to Reba’s Grammy Award-winning, #1 smash duet, “Does He Love You”, with Linda Davis, from 1994.
Reba has always had her finger on the pulse of people (mostly women) going through breakups and dealing with heartbreak, people hoping to find love, and for people finding that love.
“She Got Drunk Last Night” and “I’ll Go On” both satisfy the breakup and moving on theme. “I’ll Go On” reminds me a lot of one of my favorite Reba songs that was never released as a single, “He Wants To Get Married” from 1992’s “It’s Your Call”.
In 1991, following a very dark time for Reba, she released a very personal album, “For My Broken Heart”. The title track and first single and the last song on the album, “If I Had Only Known” are alive in this album’s “Just Like Them Horses”.
The beautiful song is stunning. It’s about one person facing the reality that their time on Earth is over and they convince a survivor that they’re ready to go and that have to say goodbye. They do it with grace, dignity, and respect.
When Reba got the song, she thought of her father, Clark, who wasn’t doing well. When he passed away last October, Reba sang it at his funeral.
Finding love against all odds is a strong point for Reba and through my 25 years of being a fan, she’s given me hope when I didn’t think there was any.
On this album, “That’s When I Knew” would give any man or woman faith that love is right around the corner and it’s my favorite song on “Love Somebody”.
Reba excels at upbeat anthems, too, and there are many on “Love Somebody”.
“Livin’ Ain’t Killed Me Yet” and “Until They Don’t Love You” are great, and then there’s the simplistic beauty of the mid-tempo, “Promise Me Love”.
When there’s a new Reba album, I admit that I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t a song that doesn’t truly rip your heart out and bring you to tears.
On her recent efforts, “Moving Oleta” (from “Room To Breathe”) and “Roses” (from “So Good Together”) come to mind.
On “Love Somebody”, that song is “Love Land”. After I got over the mindset that the mother didn’t want her daughter to have a child outside of marriage, the message song brought me to tears — first, of sadness and then, happiness.
“Love Somebody” is a solid album and it makes you realize how much Reba has brought to country music over the past forty years. It also makes it clear how much she could offer country music radio if it looked beyond ageism.
This is Reba’s best album since 2004’s “Room To Breathe”.
My favorite tracks: “That’s When I Knew”, “Just Like Them Horses”, “Promise Me Love”, “Until They Don’t Love You”, “Going Out Like That”, and “Enough”.
Here’s a Reba bonus.
Last summer, before it was announced that Reba was working on “Love Somebody”, she released “Pray For Peace”, featuring her good friend, Ronnie Dunn, of Brooks & Dunn, and her daughter-in-law, Kelly Clarkson.
It’s featured on the new album.