George Strait, ‘Here for a Good Time’ – Album Review
'Here for a Good Time' is a sneaky name for George Strait's new album (which is in stores and available for download today, September 6) because most of the 11 songs are anything but a good time. This is the legendary country singer's darkest album in recent memory, with no fewer than five tracks feeling like punches to the kidney. A number of cuts feel unusually personal, giving fans a rare glimpse into the quiet life Strait lives offstage.
'Drinkin' Man' is the song everyone will be talking about. It's one of the seven Strait co-wrote with his son Bubba Strait and frequent collaborator Dean Dillon. The first verse unwraps all the feel-good cheer built up from the opening cut. "I fought it like the devil but you know that you’re in trouble / When you’re 14 and drunk by 10AM," Strait sings. It's one of two heartbreaking songs about addiction on the album -- the other being 'Poison,' not written by Strait's team. One finds themselves playing the song again and again to forever sew Strait's hopelessness and desperation into the fabric of the mind.
The title track and 'Lone Star Blues' are a fun breath of fresh air after the early emotional beating. Make no mistake, 'Drinkin' Man' and 'Poison' are great songs. They're just far deeper than one would expect. Two of the later songs on 'Here For a Good Time' amount to Strait giving a rare interview. On 'A Showman's Life' with Faith Hill and 'I'll Always Remember You,' the singer addresses the music industry and retirement with candor.
"I’m not saying I’m through by any means / There’s still things that I want to say and do / I hope you won’t forget me / ‘Cause we’ve shared a lot of dreams / And just know that I’ll always remember you," Strait sings in the first chorus before delivering a spoken word thank you to his fans, hinting that retirement feels like a train in the dark distance. It's not quite ready to collect him, but he can feel the rails rattling and make out the headlight.
Strait turns 60-years-old next year. His career has crossed three decades because he never gets complacent and is never afraid to take chances. Granted, when you're George Strait you can afford to take a few chances, but other seasoned country artists choose to play it safe in their gray years. 'Here For a Good Time' proves he still belongs amongst the upper crust of male country singers. No one can accuse him of living off a legacy.