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George Strait ” Honky Tonk Time Machine”

As much as I enjoy discovering the music of the numerous emerging country artists, I always get particularly excited when one of the country music legends releases a new album …….and this week it’s the turn of the “ King of Country” himself, George Strait, to give us his latest collection “ Honky Tonk Time Machine”  out on 29th March.

George has influenced so many other artists over the years and continues to do so today, and you always know exactly what to expect from one of his albums. Naturally there’s always going to be a fair bit of Texan honky tonk in the mix, and there’ll be songs that will break your heart, make you laugh, paint pictures and tell stories, all with honest and relatable lyrics. The instrumentation will be trad country through and through ( fiddle and steel guitar playing a huge role) and of course, last but not least, George’s rich, smooth vocals will wash over you throughout.

This new release, his 30th studio album, is no exception and has been eagerly awaited by his fans ever since 2015’s  “ Cold Beer Conversation”. Album teasers already released include  “Codigo “, his full on honky tonk ode to Mexico’s finest export, Codigo 1530 tequila ( Strait is an investor in the brand) and the stunning ballad  “ God And Country Music”,  the latter a co-written by Nashville songwriting royalty Lori McKenna, Barry Dean and Luke

As well as co-producing the album alongside Chuck Ainlay (  who’s credits as engineer/mixer/producer appear on numerous country albums including many of George’s back catalogue ) George co-wrote eight of the thirteen tracks.  Many see him hooking up with his favourite collaborators , son Bubba and the legendary Dean Dillon, but he also joined forces writing and singing on the album closer with Willie Nelson. Yes, “ Sing One With Willie” is a lilting waltz that sees the two icons singing about their mutual admiration for each other, with George starting things off by lamenting about never having sung with his pal before Willie joins in the discussion. The track was debuted at a recent Nashville show marking the first time the two had ever shared a stage. A cover of country outlaw Johnny Paycheck’s “ Old Violin” sits comfortably among the new songs, and as on the original the haunting steel adds fantastic atmosphere to this moving number.

Talking of moving numbers, “ Sometimes Love” won’t fail to touch you I guarantee, a nostalgic and relatable ballad looking back at a lover who was “ a sometimes love, but sometimes love hangs around a little too long”……both parties have moved on but there’s an air of regret with George still haunted by his memories. The makings of an instant classic I reckon and one of my favourites on this album. And “ Weight of the Badge” is another that will touch a nerve for sure, as it did with me, a son’s tribute to his father who was a cop and who’s footsteps he is following in. It paints a wonderful picture of the difficulties and responsibilities faced in the line of duty, as he says although the badge “ doesn’t weigh a lot ’til you put it on, then the weight of it is staggering”. Then there’s the though provoking “ What Goes Up”, a song about faith and a near death experience.

Of the more fun numbers, the album opener  “ Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” puts you exactly there in Texas, drinking and dancing on the bar ( check out the lyric video here

as does the fast paced title track , with piano and fiddle to the fore this is a full on ode to the honky tonk mentioning the bar’s juke box and dance floor full of cowboy boots and blue jeans. Both really infectious toe-tappers for sure.

There’s even a calypso style track in the mix, too, the love song “ Two More Wishes” which is pretty steamy if you let your imagination run wild…..the singer’s first wish has been granted ( he’s found the love of his life) but says to her “ let’s get out of here as i’ve got two more wishes”.
Yes, this album ticks all the boxes and takes the listener on the usual George Strait rollercoaster of emotions, it’s everything you have come to expect from him and demonstrates why he is one of the enduring greats of country music.
George will be playing a one off show in Atlanta on 30th March, the day after this album drops, where he’ll be joined by Chris Stapleton, Chris Jansen and Ashley Mcbryde. Ashley also be opening for him on a string of dates later in the year for his “ Strait to Vegas” shows . He’s also performing at the Loretta LynnBirthday Tribute concert in Nashville on April 1st, and in Vegas at the ACM Awards on April 7th,  both alongside a myriad of country stars.
For all his tour dates and more, including pre-order bundles for “Honky Tonk Time Machine” containing exclusive merchandise, go to georgestrait.com
Honky Tonk Time Machine track listing:
1. “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
2. “Two More Wishes”
Written by Jim Lauderdale and Odie Blackmon
3. “Some Nights”
Written by Bubba Strait, Brice Longand Phillip White
4. “God and Country Music” (with Harvey Strait)
Written by Luke Laird, Barry Dean and Lori McKenna
5. “Blue Water”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
6. “Sometimes Love”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
7. “Código”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
8. “Old Violin”
Written by Johnny Paycheck
9. “Take Me Away”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
10. “The Weight of the Badge”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon
11. “Honky Tonk Time Machine”
Written by Bubba Strait, Brice Longand Bart Butler
12. “What Goes Up”
Written by George Strait, Bubba Strait and Jeff Hyde
13. “Sing One with Willie” (featuring Willie Nelson)
Written by George Strait, Willie Nelson, Bubba Strait and Buddy Cannon
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