Review: Martina McBride stretches on new album

Martina McBride, “Eleven” (Republic Nashville)

For her 11th album, veteran country music star Martina McBride does more than change record companies. She also takes a new approach to her sound and style.

During 18 years with RCA Records, McBride grew into one of country music’s most consistent recording stars —and one of America’s most respected vocalists. A petite woman with a huge voice, McBride became known for issue-oriented female anthems while showing off the dynamic power of her instrument.

With “Eleven,” the 45-year-old mother of three presents her most diverse album ever. She still offers a message song, dealing with breast cancer on the touching “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” More typical of her new direction is the effective single, “Teenage Daughters,” which mixes a conversational tone with a wry, wise detailing of the challenges of parenthood.

Among the changes, McBride now contributes more as a songwriter, helping compose more than half of her new album. From the cheerful pop-rock of “One Night” to the island sway of “Always Be This Way” to her cover of the rock band Train’s hit “Marry Me” (performed as a duet with Train’s Pat Monahan), McBride proves she can handle a variety of musical styles with convincing conviction.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: The R&B arrangement of “Whatcha Gonna Do” allows McBride to flaunt a soulful side. Not only does the song showcase her vocal range, it also reveals a vulnerability not often heard from a singer known for prideful songs of empowerment.

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