The first singers to call themselves “troubadours,” in 12th-century Europe, tended to follow strict rules about the form and subjects of their songs—there were songs to dance to, songs about loving and cheating, songs that taught moral lessons and so on. So George Strait, who has been making music according to a pretty similar blueprint for more than a quarter-century, has earned the right to call his latest album Troubadour.
Given his hallmark consistency, what stands out about George’s latest effort are its slight variations from his usual fare: the surprising sentimentality of lead single “I Saw God Today”; two duets (one with Patty Loveless, the other with Dean Dillon) from a guy who rarely records them; and its taut brevity, clocking in fully 16 minutes shorter than 2006’s It Just Comes Natural. But as with any George album, the quality is a guarantee—the singing is sublime, the song selection exacting. It’s all in a day’s work for one of the great modern troubadours.