George Strait

Holding My Own

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By the time he released his twelfth album Holding My Own in 1992, George Strait had been having hits for over a decade, a long time in any kind of pop music, so it should come as no surprise that when this hit the market it was surrounded by albums cut by singers inspired by Strait. As such, the title itself can be read as a little bit defensive, proving that Strait was indeed comparing well to such new stars as Garth Brooks, and there are other slight signs of Strait and producer Jimmy Bowen reacting to the shifting times. There's the return of a coat of gloss on such slow singles as "So Much Like My Dad," a slight tempering of Western swing, a brightening of the Telecasters and beat on the uptempo tunes, which does result in the delightful modern rockabilly of "It's Alright with Me," reminiscent of nothing less than an updated Ricky Nelson tune. All these changes are incorporated within the framework of Strait's traditional country, sitting alongside the shuffles and barroom ballads that are familiar but have hardly worn out their welcome at this point. It's a sound as comfortable as a pair of slippers and Strait is appealing as ever here; appealing enough to disguise that for as likeable as many of these songs are, they're not among his best. That may be true, but even average George Strait is quite enjoyable, and, in retrospect, this not only held its own against the new guys, it's aged better than many of their LPs -- it only pales in comparison to other records by Strait himself.

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