Shine by Martina McBride
Having long since established herself as one of country’s most powerful and popular singers, Martina McBride spent the last several years engaging in some modest experimentation. She proved herself a capable producer by taking the reins on 2005’s winning covers collection, Timeless, but seemed a little less assured with the more mainstream Waking Up Laughing two years later. Martina brought in Dann Huff—the man behind flashy hits for Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban—to co-produce Shine, and together they deliver a smartly restrained back-to-basics move.
Shine carefully gives us a healthy portion of everything we’ve come to expect from Martina: romantic joy (“Sunny Side Up,” the only song here Martina co-wrote), friendly encouragement (“Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong”), even an “Independence Day”-tinged tale of abuse and revenge (“Wild Rebel Rose”). The arrangements are tastefully simple, and Martina’s voice carries the melodies with the offhand ease of a master vocalist who understands you don’t have to shout to shine.