Reba McEntire

What Am I Gonna Do About You

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Since most country artists do not write their own songs, they can have more trouble maintaining the quality of their records than keeping a string of hits going. Reba McEntire broke through to massive success -- recognized by the Country Music Association with its 1986 Entertainer of the Year Award -- with the chart-topping Whoever's in New England, featuring the career-making title song. The album represented the perfection of an approach she and producer Jimmy Bowen had been taking for a couple of years, and one they only tinkered with on McEntire's next album, What Am I Gonna Do About You. But, even with Nashville tunesmiths burning the midnight oil to write songs tailor-made for her, she was unable to come up with material that matched. Not that these ten songs were bad. In fact, the title song had something of the feel of "Whoever's in New England" in its portrayal of a woman trying to recover from a painfully ended love affair. That track hit number one, as did "One Promise Too Late," in which a woman lamented a suitor who had come along after she'd already said her wedding vows with another. And "I Heard Her Cryin'," reflecting on the impact of marital squabbling on an uncomprehending child, was another strong ballad. But McEntire and Bowen seemed to feel that perhaps Whoever's in New England had been a bit too heavy on slow songs, and they tried for a more stylistic variety here, including a playful, '50s-style rocker, "Take Me Back," and giving an equally light Tex-Mex feel to "Till It Snows in Mexico." "Let the Music Lift You Up," a tribute to music itself, managed to struggle as high as number four on the singles chart despite being an unsuitable piece of material for McEntire, who would have been better advised to release the cleverly constructed barroom saga "My Mind Is on You" on 45 instead. Still, the album replicated its predecessor in going to number one itself, thus consolidating McEntire's position as country's top female singer. A listener might wish that she would have come up with another "Whoever's in New England," but then such works are called signature songs because they only come along once or twice in a whole career.

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