It's just too easy to say that It Just Comes Natural, the title of George Strait's 29th album, applies to the man himself, but that doesn't mean that it isn't true. Few singers have ever sounded as natural as George Strait. Throughout his long career, it has never seemed like he's had to work hard at his music -- not in its performance, not in the ...Read MoreIt's just too easy to say that It Just Comes Natural, the title of George Strait's 29th album, applies to the man himself, but that doesn't mean that it isn't true. Few singers have ever sounded as natural as George Strait. Throughout his long career, it has never seemed like he's had to work hard at his music -- not in its performance, not in the songs he chooses to sing, nor in the records he makes. Over the course of 25 years he's not released one bad album and 2006's It Just Comes Natural keeps country music's longest winning streak rolling. It holds no surprises apart from its sheer strength: at 15 songs, it's a little longer than some of his recent records, yet it feels lean, largely because there isn't a bad song here. As usual, he has an expert ear for material -- whether it's reviving Guy Clark's classic "Texas Cookin'," finding Trent Tomlinson's slow heartbroken blues "Why Can't I Leave Her Alone," or recording the absolutely terrific, slyly funny breakup song "Give It Away," which kicks off the album and gave Strait his annual number one country hit -- and while he may not stretch himself too much, it's hard to think of another singer who knows his strengths so well, it never seems like he's trying. It doesn't seem like he finds songs; it seems like the songs come to him. He and his band have a similarly assured performance, mining the heartbreak in ballads like "I Ain't Her Cowboy Anymore" while kicking into gear on uptempo numbers like "One Foot in Front of the Other." But what might be most impressive about Strait and his band is how they come across as compelling even when they seem relaxed and off-the-cuff as they do many times on It Just Comes Natural, including on the lazy, Tex-Mex-tinged "Come on Joe," the laid-back "Wrapped," or the title track itself, where they do indeed sound natural. After all this time and all these good records, it's hard to see another good George Strait album as an event, but in a way it is: few other artists have been as good for as long as he has, and that's something to celebrate, particularly when the records are as good as this one is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, RoviRead Less
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