Martina McBride Explores a Pop Classic, ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 15:01
One of the most powerful voices in country music is tapping into some new sounds with her latest album. Martina McBride, four-time winner of the CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year award, is taking on classic songs of the 1960s and ‘70s with Everlasting, her newest album out on March 4.
Her first single from this new venture debuted in mid-December on YouTube, along with the announcement of Everlasting on her fan page. Made famous by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1972 as their first hit, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” is offered up with some surprising new sounds by McBride.
Known for her blazing vocals and power-packed ballads like “Independence Day” and “A Broken Wing,” McBride gives listeners a gentle drift down a river with this one. Her vocals are very clear and this song hardly puts her power to the test.
That is a bit of a downside to this single. Listeners like a little bit of a punch when it comes to Martina McBride songs, as her range and power have stood the test of time since her 1992 debut and the hits that have sprung up since then. However, a little calm and quiet never hurt anybody, and McBride is in fine form on this low-power single.
A piano and horns back McBride, the latter of which was first explored on the singer’s last album Eleven. Here the horns change the flavor from tried-and-true Martina country pop to smooth and slow ballroom balladry. As a country singer, McBride’s shift in sound here is very noticeable, as she seemingly takes on a whole new style.
But she’s done it before. While McBride has never recorded classic pop or R&B before, she has covered plenty of it in concert. From “Rescue Me” to “The First Cut is the Deepest” to “Baby What You Want Me To Do,” McBride has covered some serious ground outside of her main genre when in concert.
Everlasting, however, is not her first covers album. In 2005, the singer released Timeless, a collection of classic country songs. “Rose Garden,” a single from that album, made the Top 20 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Timeless also proved to be her fastest-selling record and went platinum two months after its release.
Since her last album, McBride has toured extensively on summer and Christmas tours and opening for George Strait’s two-year farewell tour. In recent years, she has explored her own songwriting after racking up a Top 5 hit with “Anyway” in 2007. Martina fans may be displeased that she has put aside her pen with this album, but her take on the 14 classics included on this outing should be a nice mix of something old with something new.
If McBride’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” is any indication, a reinvented sound awaits listeners on Everlasting. Exploring new instruments and new styles on these old songs, and with a voice that can tackle any tune, Martina McBride has the guts to try something new and the guns to pull it off quite nicely.