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GAC Album Review: Martina McBride’s Eleven

Martina McBride

Martina McBride photo courtesy of Republic Nashville.

There have been a few changes for Martina McBride since she released her 2009 album, Shine. For starters, she joined the Republic Nashville label in 2010 and switched up management companies as well. In addition to working with these new partners, Martina is readying her eleventh studio album, appropriately titled Eleven, with the help of a new co-producer, Byron Gallimore. Maintaining the numerical theme, the 11-song collection will be released next week on October 11th, and the new approach to this record didn’t stop there. Martina is using this opportunity to focus on her own songwriting more for the very personal project.

Along with co-producing the new album, Martina co-wrote more than half the songs on Eleven, including the album’s up-tempo lead single “Teenage Daughters” (co-written with the Warren Brothers). Supported by loose acoustic guitars and bursting drums, Martina sings with a little teenage attitude, At seventeen she’s just like me when I was seventeen, so I don’t blame her, when discussing dealing with her daughters’ mischievous sides.

Watch the “Teenage Daughters” video >>

Songs like “Teenage Daughters” and the lonely road ballad “Long Distance Lullaby” examine family dynamics and this theme rings throughout Eleven. “Long Distance Lullaby,” a slow, loving message to her husband, strikes a balance between expressing Martina’s own desire to be with him and an understanding that life on the road can be tough on her family. I wish I could give you a kiss from a thousand miles, she sings delicately through the chorus. On “I’m Gonna Love You Through It,” Martina takes a hard look at the realities a family faces when a young mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Martina sings despondently through the verse, matching the mood fittingly, Cancer don’t discriminate or care if you’re just thirty-eight/ with three kids who need you in their lives. Yet after a strong chorus that details a husband’s oath of support, the message here turns truly empowering.

“Watch the “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” video >>

Martina shows off her fluid soprano range on songs like opening-track “One Night,” a fast-paced, pop-leaning piece about living in the moment. I just want to light up the sky, she sings over crisp production. However, she also displays great depth on more soulful songs like the R&B-influenced “Whatcha Gonna Do.” Surrounded by acoustic guitars, electric piano and a brush of pedal steel, Martina sings with dynamic textures, I’m done listening to all your talk, talk, talkin’/ Show me something true or baby I’m walkin’ out the door and out your life, reprising the heartfelt blues from her role honoring Aretha Franklin at last year’s Grammy Awards.

Martina takes chances and incorporates different flavors into the album. A horn section on the carefree “Broken Umbrella” or a duet with lead singer Pat Monahan of the rock band Train on “Marry Me” reminds listeners that this Kansas native with a voice of solid country gold isn’t afraid to be a little adventurous. With some new members to her team and a new emphasis on songwriting, Martina evolves her signature sound on Eleven while looking to the future.

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