Reba McEntire is back with her first album in five years and has surrounded herself with some of Nashville’s hottest, and best, songwriters, including Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, and Lori McKenna — resulting in her freshest sounding album in some time. On the 12-track collection Reba touches on all the topics and styles that helped to make her a country music legend. She manages to keep her hand in the contemporary game without it feeling too much like she is pandering to current trends. Love the sassy “You go, girl!” Reba who isn’t going to let a little heartache get her down? Then press play for the keep-your-head-up-after-a-breakup anthem “Going Out Like That,” or enjoy the catchy “Livin’ Ain’t Killed Me Yet,”.
If you love Reba’s classic duet with Linda Davis, “Does He Love You”, check out “Enough,” featuring Jennifer Nettles as the 2015 edition of the mistress who hopes for more while Reba plays the role of the wife. Neither woman is getting what she wants from the man in question, but they join forces for enjoyably grandiose melodrama. Ever wonder what Reba might sound like tackling the glossy contemporary style now scoring on the charts — and worry that it might be terrible? Check out the surprisingly effective title track, co-written by McAnally, Osborne, and the currently white-hot Sam Hunt. It finds the Country Music Hall of Famer urging open-heartedness over a big beat that doesn’t rob her of her brass — or, for that matter, of her banjo and pedal steel. Not surprisingly, the album’s best track, “She Got Drunk Last Night” was penned by Clark and McAnally. While there are a few filler tracks, it’s nice to have Reba back in business.