Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Waking Up Laughing - Martina McBride
I have a little history with Martina McBride. Way back in the day (we're going back to 1994 or something here) I bought this "New Country" compilation from WH Smiths for a few quid and there was a Martina McBride song on it. I liked that song and then bought her album. And whilst my Country phases don't always last long, she made enough of an impression on me to be buying her greatest hits compilation (which is good).
So all that waffle brings us to her 9th studio album, Waking Up Laughing. It gives you a clear idea of the Nashville scene that the major story surrounding this release is the fact that, GASP, Martina not only writes the songs, but that she produces it as well. Ok, so it's only co-writing (and only THREE tracks at that), but she does "solo" produce the album and the general feeling is that she thus proves she's more than just another pretty face. Funny, I would have thought that her tendency to pepper her albums with tracks concerned deeply with social consciousness would have done that on their own. I mean even today, a new artist coming out with something like Independence Day would be taking a hell of a risk in the still conservative Nashville.
That said, for all the bluster about striking out on her own on this album, you'd be hard pressed to notice any real difference from those that preceded it. Thus we have songs about unwed mothers (Love Land), child abuse (Beautiful Again) amongst other such concerns, and really you could place them on any of her albums and not lose the effect. But in a way that affirms just what a consistent hit maker Martina McBride is. She barely tinkers with the "formula" for the very good reason that it doesn't need much tinkering with.
Fans will love it, non-fans will remain as non-plussed as ever. But then I guess you could say that about the majority of Country music's great artists. Another minor triumph.