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Here for a Good Time ()

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Given its title, it's easy to assume Here for a Good Time -- George Strait's 39th album in 30 years -- would be a single-minded soundtrack to a never-ending party, but things are a little more complicated than that. Strait slips into a reflective mood almost immediately, settling into the wryly melancholy "Drinkin' Man" on the second song, setting a reflective tone he carries through much of the rest of the record, particularly on its companion piece, "Poison." These two tunes undercut Strait's rallying call for moonshine on the title track, but there's not a contradiction here so much as Strait serving the needs of the song, his weary regret reading as convincingly as his carefree partying. If the livelier numbers initially make the strongest impression -- whether it's Al Anderson's sunny pop opener "Love's Gonna Make It Alright" or a pair of fleet-footed blues in "Lone Star Blues" and "Blue Marlin Blues" -- it's the introspective moments that anchor the album and lend it a measure of gravity. And it is just measure enough -- a touch of an autumnal breeze arriving via his duet with Faith Hill on Jesse Winchester's "A Showman's Life," a passing acknowledgment of Strait's mortality on the sweetly sad "I'll Always Remember You" -- to give Here for a Good Time some emotional resonance. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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