Waking Up Laughing by Martina McBride

Anyone who wakes up laughing must think the day will be a good one. Certainly, that’s the attitude expressed on Martina’s first album of new material in four years, which teems with optimism.

More than ever, we can assume that feeling is Martina’s own—she co-wrote several songs for the first time in her career, and produced the album herself. It’s the latter that truly impresses, as Martina conjures a sound filled with personality and warmth. From the swirling string arrangements to the creative use of organ and mandolin, Waking Up Laughing suggests that one of country’s finest vocalists also has the makings of a production powerhouse.

Pity the songs don’t always meet that standard. The tossed-off reference to attempted sexual abuse on the sunny “Beautiful Again” sits uneasily, and there’s an overreliance on worn subject matter (try counting all the unplanned pregnancies in the lyrics). Nonetheless, the craft and care Martina displays on Waking Up Laughing offer reason for optimism.

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