When you think of Martina McBride, words like vocal powerhouse and country legend immediately come to mind. One less immediate thought, however, is soul diva…until now. On her new album, Everlasting, McBride tackles some of the biggest soul and pop classics of all time, and she does so flawlessly. While it may seem like a stretch for a country superstar like McBride to tackle the likes of Aretha Franklin, the Supremes and Elvis, the album only serves to solidify what we’ve known all along: Martina McBride can sing anything and she can do it better than 99% of the human population.
The album was produced by the legendary Don Was, and is the first release for McBride’s own Vinyl Records through Kobalt label services. Perhaps it’s the freedom that she has by releasing the disc on her own label, but McBride sounds like she’s having fun doing things her way. “I love soulful music and it just made sense to me to stretch a bit at this time and do something that fills my heart and allows me to explore a little bit,” said McBride. “I have worked hard to choose some of the best and most loved classics, much like I did with Timeless, and interpret them in a way that is faithful to the original, but still has my own artistic spin to make it mine.”
While McBride has dabbled in covers before (2005’s Timeless), this is the first time she’s really stepped outside of the country box and flexed her powerful vocal chords over such a wide variety of material. Immediate highlights of the album include her bluesy version of Fred Neil’s “Little Bit of Rain,” her rousing take on Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” and her incredible vocal display on Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” The album’s closer is another poignant moment, a beautiful cover of The Teddy Bears’ hit “To Know Him Is To Love Him” and I can imagine McBride performing this live to a slack-jawed crowd.
It’s no surprise that the four-time Country Music Association female vocalist of the year shines on the CD’s solo offerings, but she also elicits the help of two famous friends for a pair of show-stopping duets. Gavin DeGraw provides McBride with the perfect male partner on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me,” his soulful rasp perfectly complimenting McBride’s pristine vocal chords. On “In the Basement,” originally by Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto, McBride enlists fellow powerhouse, Kelly Clarkson. While this collaboration won’t earn Clarkson any more country cred, it does allow her to stretch her natural R&B rasp over a fun track that will inspire you to want to visit whatever mythical basement she and McBride are hanging out in.
Although Everlasting may not win any country awards, it’s sure to satisfy McBride fans and music lovers alike. As an independent release, it feels like a rather natural progression for the singer and an interesting way for her to spread her (unbroken) wings. McBride is clearly having fun with her new-found freedom, and while I anxiously await new original music from McBride, I’ll celebrate her independence day with another listen to Everlasting.
Let me know what you think of the album!
You can leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter @NicolePiering