Everlasting by Martina McBride
Different as they may appear on the surface, country music and soul have a great deal in common: talented vocalists who sing with feeling, impeccable songwriting and melodies that you can’t shake, for starters.
So while it may seem like a drastic change of course for Martina McBride to go soul on the new album Everlasting, it’s really more of a slight left for the lady who hit us all in the gut with “A Broken Wing.” The powerhouse vocalist teamed up with producer Don Was to make the record, dusting off her favorite classic tunes to make them sound fresh again.
Among those getting the Martina treatment are “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” famously recorded in 1967 by Aretha Franklin. Rather than trying to match the Queen of Soul’s explosive delivery, Martina molds the slow-burning track to fit her own expressive vocal style.
On Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me,” she goes round for round with pop singer Gavin DeGraw and shows off some flashy runs at the end. She also bravely duets with Kelly Clarkson on “In the Basement” (which Etta James recorded) and makes a fine showing among the piped-in party noise and all.
Overall the recording sounds great—warm and intimate without sacrificing polish. If there’s a complaint, it’s that the era-hopping from Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” to Motown to Phil Spector’s “To Know Him Is to Love Him” feels a little stylistically scattered. But thankfully, there’s always Martina right in the center, pulling the disparate threads together into one soulful mixture.