George Strait’s Cold Beer Conversation album presents a drastic dichotomy, often on back-to-back songs. Much of the King’s new album is laid-back or amped up for a party, while a few songs are best considered over red wine instead of whiskey.

“Everything I See” and “Even When I Can’t Feel It” are his most pensive moments. The former is one of two that consider death, although the Brandy Clark co-written “Take Me to Texas” comes across with more wry swagger than hesitation.

“It’s heaven there, and so my prayer / Is that you’ll take me anywhere in Texas / The only home I know / I’m a child of the Alamo / And the yellow rose / So when I go / Take me to Texas,” he sings as the song builds toward the bridge.

Two western swing tracks (“Goin’ Goin’ Gone” and “It Takes All Kinds”) feed tempo, but “Rock Paper Scissors” is the loudest moment on Cold Beer Conversation. One struggles to think of a more guitar-drenched cut on any of his previous 28 studio albums. It’s a breakup song with screaming guitars. Anyone who thinks Strait relies on a formula needs to visit this song.

As with so many Strait albums, the meat of this project is the too-easy-to-listen to, mid-tempo country cuts. There’s a little surf on tracks like “Let It Go” and “Wish You Well,” and the title track and “Cheaper Than a Shrink” lean into his chill religion. Vocally he’s up and down, but mostly up while singing sharply-written songs about life and death and the space in between.

Strait’s sound moves like the summer sun — you never notice a big shift until you look up and it’s on the other side of the sky. He moves a little further toward end of life questions (and rock music, apparently) on Cold Beer Conversation, but it’s still an album fans who found him at sunrise will recognize.

The Singles

The first single was "Let It Go," released in April. The beachy, airy song preaches letting the little things in life go.

“Let it go, sometimes you gotta let it go / Let it all wash on under the bridge, blow it a kiss / Give it a rest ‘cause it is what it is.”

Upon announcing the new album, Strait released "Cold Beer Conversation," written by Al Anderson, Ben Hayslip and Jimmy Yeary.

The Title:

Strait hasn't explained why he chose Cold Beer Conversation as the title for his new album, but it's rowdier than those he has released in recent years.

The Songs:

Thirteen songs written by a wide range of artists. Traditionalists like Bill Anderson mix with neo-traditionalists (a term once used on Strait) like Jamey Johnson and Clark. Strait helped write three songs. One song ("Cheaper Than a Shrink") was previously recorded by Joe Nichols.

1. “It Was Love” (Keith Gattis)
2. “Cold Beer Conversation” (Al Anderson, Ben Hayslip and Jimmy Yeary)
3. “Let It Go” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Keith Gattis)
4. “Goin’ Goin’ Gone” (Wyatt Earp and Keith Gattis)
5. “Something Going Down” (Jamey Johnson and Tom Shapiro)
6. “Take Me to Texas” (Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally)
7. “It Takes All Kinds” (George Strait, Bubba Strait, Bob Regan and Wil Nance)
8. “Stop and Drink” (Dale Dodson and Troy Jones)
9. “Everything I See” (George Strait, Bubba Strait, Dean Dillon and Keith Gattis)
10. “Rock Paper Scissors” (Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell and Bubba Strait)
11. “Wish You Well” (Clint Daniels, Jeff Hyde and Brice Long)
12. “Cheaper Than a Shrink” (Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson)
13. “Even When I Can’t Feel It” (Dean Dillon, Ben Hayslip and Lee Miller)

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