Martina McBride, "Reckless" (Nash Icon/BMLG)
On Martina McBride's first album for the Nash Icon label — created to market veteran country singers — she hedges her bets by co-producing with longtime hit-maker Dann Huff (Keith Urban) and relative newcomer Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift).
Perhaps accordingly then, the album presents something old and something new. The four-time CMA female vocalist of the year tosses out a few pop-country trifles: "We'll Pick Up Where We Left Off" and "That's the Thing About Love" feature powerhouse performances and bright arrangements, but the lyrics are too contrived to mean anything to anyone.
Elsewhere, however, McBride shows how effective she can be when moving away from formula. She excels on wholly modern tunes, such as "Everybody Wants to Be Loved" and "It Ain't Pretty," both of which feature inventive arrangements that suggest this 49-year-old could beat youngsters half her age at their own game.
Similarly, the timelessness and superb taste shown on the stripped-down piano and vocal stunner "You and You Alone" and the spare, breezy Buddy Miller duet, "The Real Thing," reveal that McBride remains an artist of the first order.