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Album review: Reba McEntire's 'Keep on Loving You'

August 18, 2009 |  6:45 am
Reba_keep_on_loving_you_240 Things are tough out there for women: working women, single women, married women, lonely women, abandoned women. But they've all got Reba, the Oprah of country music (and billed first-name only here), to turn to for a word of wisdom, comfort, advice or some down-home common sense.

The Oklahoma-born singer-turned-actress, 54, has an uncanny way of staying connected to longtime fans and bringing new ones aboard. It can't hurt that she's kept herself plenty visible in recent years on television, on Broadway and on concert stages, while musically she reaches out on each album with songs for pretty much every one of those aforementioned constituencies.

Over the course of the album the messages get a bit mixed: in "Consider Me Gone," she sings of cutting losses and moving ahead quickly when the passion has left a relationship; then in "I Keep on Loving You," the recommendation is patience and forgiveness for a partner who missteps time after time; in the sinister "Maggie Creek Road," it's serious payback time for one pistol-packin' mama who's scarred but not scared.

Some tunes feel chosen more for their music video potential than for what they add to McEntire's considerable musical legacy. She spends most of the time in the country-pop-rock end of the musical spectrum she helped map out in the '80s. It is, however, a delight to hear her return to her Western swing roots in the closing track, "I'll Have What She's Having," because she has the requisite rhythmic spring down to her marrow.

It's admirable that McEntire can stay current, but even more impressive when she sounds so joyfully timeless.

-- Randy Lewis

Reba McEntire
"Keep on Loving You"
Two and a half stars