Industry icon George Strait is obviously still "countrified" in The Road Less Traveled, but the country traditionalist has a few out of the ordinary tricks up his sleeve this time. After 25 platinum albums flavored mainly with Texas swing and grassroots country, Strait is now playing the experimentalist. Though the album does touch upon traditional Strait material with songs such as "She'll Leave You With a Smile" and "Don't Tell Me You're Not in Love," the singer employs uncharacteristic synthetic vocal enhancement à la Cher's (mentioning Cher in the same sentence with George Strait never seemed possible before) "Do You Believe in Love" remix on his Cajun tune "Stars on the Water." The mix may make you check the CD case to make sure it's Strait you're playing, but doesn't come across as that distracting. The irony comes two cuts later, when Strait calls for "The Real Thing," referring to the music of artists such as Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. The arrangement of the album's first single, "Run," is also a bit of a change for Strait, though the song's idea is undeniably country. The Road Less Traveled finishes out with a song written by Merle Haggard and Terry Gordon that Strait calls "the soundtrack to his life." "My Life's Been Grand" seems like a suitable message to fans after 57 million records sold and, as Strait points out in another cut from this fascinatingly diverse album (contradiction and all), that's the difference between "Living and Living Well."
AllMusic Review by Rick Cohoon