Once an artist like Trisha Yearwood enters her second decade of recording, it's easy to take her for granted. Why? Well, consistency doesn't make for quite as dramatic a story as dramatic swings between brilliance and failure. That may be unfair, but that's the way it is. Yearwood has never swung between such extremes. She has released some exceptional albums, plus a couple of sub-par efforts, but for the most part, she has remained an artist that is reliable -- you pay your money, and you know you'll get something satisfactory. Real Live Woman is one of those records; it may not rock your world, but it will hardly disappoint. A little more mature and straight-ahead than even her latter-day efforts, Real Live Woman is a measured, deliberate record in the best possible sense. The tempo never gets too heated, but the songs never drift into laziness, either. The tunes are always melodic and always well-chosen. They don't just play to Yearwood's strengths, but they're solid songs in their own right, whether it's a new Matraca Berg and Al Anderson song ("I'm Still Alive"), an overlooked Springsteen tune ("Sad Eyes") or a Linda Ronstadt chestnut ("Try Me Again"). Yes, there are a couple of moments where the momentum drags ever so slightly, but as soon as they occur, the album perks back up with the next song. Real Live Woman isn't significantly better or worse than the average Trisha Yearwood album, but that's not a bad thing, since few people do this mainstream country -- meaning, by late-'90s/early-'00s standards, country music that still sounds country but is also melodic enough for pop -- quite as well as this.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine