Album Review – George Strait’s ‘Cold Beer Conversation’

George Strait Cold Beer Conversation

The King of Country. The Cowboy. The Man. George Strait is a man of many names and many timeless country songs that will be remembered for decades and decades. While some may dispute the king moniker place upon him by his many fans, you at the very least have to put him near the top when counting the all-time greats in country music. He’s closing in on three decades of music and shows no signs of slowing down making music. Last week at this time none of us had any idea we would be getting a new Strait album this year and then Strait surprises everyone last Tuesday by announcing Vegas concert dates and a brand new album. Clearly an old dog can learn new tricks, as Strait essentially “pulled a Beyoncé” on us (where an artist surprise releases new music, as made famous by the pop star). Cold Beer Conversation is the name of the new album and I was definitely eager to dig into it because it’s George Strait and any new music from him is very welcome to this listener.

Cold Beer Conversation opens up with the love ballad “It Was Love.” It feels like your classic Strait love ballad, where with each listen it gets better and better. This Keith Gattis-penned song fits Strait like a glove and is a solid opener to the album. The album’s title track and current single follows. It’s a nostalgia driven song about two friends reminiscing, “shooting the shit” and wondering what lies ahead in the future. This song is definitely aimed more at a younger listener and I think it will appeal well to this group. Your mileage may vary with this song, as it will depend on whether or not you can connect with the theme. Personally it reminded me a lot of hanging out with an old friend.

The lead single from the album, “Let It Go,” is next. When this song came out earlier this year I reviewed it and my thoughts have remained unchanged. I will say though I was disappointed it didn’t even sniff the top 30 at radio. From my review of “Let It Go”: It’s sunny and happy. He co-wrote the song with his son Bubba Strait and Keith Gattis (also co-wrote Strait’s “I Got A Car”). The song is about how tough life can be, but you shouldn’t let that get you down and just let your problems go. Instead move past them and be sure to enjoy the truly good times and let them roll. It’s a pretty simple theme, as that is the intention. This song is intended to be a carefree and easygoing summer song.

“Goin’ Goin’ Gone” is your classic working man’s blues song. Strait sings about being overworked, not having a 401k and drinking your troubles away. It’s catchy, fun and relatable to the everyday American. In the 90s or even the 2000s this song is a number one song at country radio easily. This is the kind of fun country song we need at radio right now, but radio doesn’t want it. The album slows down with “Something Going Down.” It’s a love ballad where a man is having a romantic evening with his wife. He’s trying to get “something going down.” I can see what Strait is going for here, but the phrase comes off a little clunky to me. It just feels like something better could have been used. This surprised me considering the writers of the song are Jamey Johnson and Tom Shapiro. Despite this slight misstep, it’s still a good song, albeit one of the weaker ones on the album.

Strait goes back to his roots with “Take Me To Texas.” He proudly sings of his home of Texas and what it means to him. Now as most of you know Texas country artists love to have these songs on almost all of their albums and it comes off so hokey and clichéd. But for some reason it’s charming coming from Strait. It’s hard to explain. I guess it just sounds natural from him and speaks to his talent. One of my favorite tracks on Cold Beer Conversation is “It Takes All Kinds.” King George drops some good old Western Swing on us! It’s definitely one of the most pleasant surprises of the album and Strait’s little wink towards traditional country fans. The song itself is about how the world takes all kinds and it’s okay if others are different. In fact he makes a possible veiled reference to today’s mainstream country artists with these lyrics halfway through:

Some wear a backwards baseball cap/If that’s you I’m cool with that/Me I’m more a cowboy hat/It takes all kinds

It may not be a reference to mainstream country artists of today, but I could definitely see it being one. Nevertheless it shows George Strait is always the gentleman.

“Stop And Drink” feels like another classic Strait song from beginning to end. It’s about observing the craziness of the world around you and making you want to drink a cold one in response. You listen to this song and you mutter to yourself, “I’ve been here.” I have to mention the instrumentation on this song is fantastic, but that’s no surprise with Strait. One of the gems of the album is “Everything I See.” Strait reflects on the death of a close friend and how he’s trying to move on after losing him. Everywhere he looks he sees a little piece of his friend and still finds himself dialing his number everyday. It’s a heartfelt song and will really hit home if you’ve just lost a friend. Strait wrote this song with his son Bubba, Gattis and Dean Dillon.

A song that took me more than a few listens to really grasp was “Rock Paper Scissors.” It’s about a woman leaving a man and how she left a rock (diamond ring), paper (“she slapped ink on a good-bye note”) and scissors (what she used to “cut his face out of every picture”) on the table. The song is a really clever take on the classic heartbreak country song. Not to mention Jamey Johnson joins Strait on the song, making it even better. It should be said that it’s nice to see Strait have Johnson involved a lot in this album. By the way we’re still waiting on that new album from you too, Jamey. “Wish You Well” is a drinking/heartbreak song. A man is drinking at the bar as he recovers from his woman leaving him and remarks that there are six beers separating him from wishing she was there with him and wishing her well. Being that there are several strong songs on this album, this song is one of the weaker ones. It’s solid, yet unspectacular.

A troika of prolific songwriters for Strait wrote “Cheaper Than A Shrink.” That troika is Johnson, Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon. This same trio wrote the Strait classic “Just Give It Away.” While “Cheaper Than A Shrink” may not be at that song’s level, it’s still pretty damn good. With a wry sense of humor, Strait sings of how spending money on drinking is much cheaper than a shrink to solve your problems. This is another song that if released in another decade, would have reached #1. The album closes out with “Even When I Can’t Feel It.” And it may just be the best song on the entire record. The song is basically about life and how even when life is unfair and keeping you down, you can still believe things will get better even when you can’t feel it. Once again it’s another classic Strait song where he just hits it out of the park with the right amount of emotion and lyrics that describe it perfectly.

Just as I expected, George Strait delivers with Cold Beer Conversation. It’s a very good album full of a variety of songs about life, love and drinking. Pretty much any country fan could pick this album up and find at least one song they can enjoy. Strait is simply timeless and shows no signs of losing his magic touch. Many artists when they get older lose what makes them great, but Strait still very much has it and seems poised to release a lot more great music for years to come. Go get this album and just listen to it repeatedly. And thank you, George, for another memorable album.

Grade: 9/10

There are currently no available ways to hear songs on the album via YouTube (at least legally, as I don’t like to advocate illegal videos on here) or Spotify. Your only way to hear it legally is via Apple Music, iTunes or Walmart. But as I said above I definitely recommend getting it.

 

14 thoughts on “Album Review – George Strait’s ‘Cold Beer Conversation’

  1. southtexaspistolero September 28, 2015 / 7:58 pm

    I am given to believe that “Everything I See” was written about George Strait’s father, who died in June 2013; I have seen that mentioned in a couple of different places. It’s certainly widely relatable, though. If I had to pick a favorite on this album right now, that one would be it.

    I love, love, LOVE “It Takes All Kinds,” but it’s still a bit unnerving to hear King George sing about liking a “top-lip dip.” 😀

    This is a really great album. As a longtime Strait fan I am enjoying it quite a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 28, 2015 / 8:52 pm

    First off, Josh, I did see your tweets about people not paying for music and getting it for free; and assuming that’s directed towards me bitching in the comments section on a couple of posts here about how I was pissed that Strait was releasing this album solely through Apple Music and Walmart, then I apologize. I didn’t mean to come across as an asshole. Please understand that since I’m only in high school, most of the money I earn goes into my college savings, and therefore Spotify is a much more convenient way for me to listen to the music I love, since I don’t have to pay for it. Anyway, I’m sorry; it wasn’t my intent to be a jerk about it.

    That being said, after reading Megan’s review of the album, I decided it was worth it to sign up for Apple Music so I could get this album ASAP, as an exception.

    I did find it to be a pretty good album, if not quite “memorable,” as you put it (for Strait, anyway). The first four songs didn’t really do much for me, especially “Goin’ Goin’ Gone,” although none of them were by means bad songs, they were all quite solid. “Something Going Down” was the first that really impressed me on the album; I think that the phrase “something going down” was meant to refer to the three things the verses were about: the lights in the house, the woman’s hair, and her gown, so it didn’t feel all that “clunky” to me. To each his own, I suppose.

    Personally, I think the best song on the album is “Even When I Can’t Feel It,” if only because the chorus of “Everything I See” is rather overproduced in my opinion. Both of them are fantastic songs, and “Everything I See” is even slightly better lyrically, I think. I also loved “Something Going Down,” “It Takes All Kinds,” “Rock Paper Scissors,” and “Cheaper Than A Shrink.”

    Overall I’d probably give it an 8/10. It’s not on the level of some other albums released this year, but it’s a good deal more “important” to country music, and it’s still a very impressive album.

    Great review, Josh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott September 28, 2015 / 8:57 pm

      Oh those tweets weren’t directed to you at all. I just saw some random tweets about it on Twitter and it set me off. So no need to apologize. My ire was directed at people who are able to pay for their music, but steal it because they’re assholes who don’t think about the big picture. My very first Hodgepodge was about this very subject. It’s always been a hot button issue for me and I’m thinking about doing another post on it.

      And thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 28, 2015 / 10:03 pm

        Haha! My bad, then. I tend to get really defensive when I see someone angry at a person that I think could be me, and I just assume the worst. It’s a really bad habit of mine.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Zack September 29, 2015 / 7:23 am

      I understand your pain there, as a college student, my funds are limited, meaning that I haven’t been able to explore into as many new sounds as I’d like to anymore. I really need to sign up for Spotify….

      Anyway, that’s why I felt like a jerk for getting the Turnpike Troubadours latest album for free on Google Play (it was legal though). But again, as a college student, I have no money :p

      Anyway great review Josh! The first 4 songs were kind of forgettable in my opinion, but this album really kicks it into high gear once it gets going. Much like Aaron Watson’s “The Underdog”, it’s not one of the best of the year, but it’s one of the most important.

      Like

  3. Cobra September 28, 2015 / 9:51 pm

    Great review, Josh.
    I picked up the album and absolutely love it. From start to finish, I can never get enough of George Strait.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jordan September 29, 2015 / 12:57 am

    Just wanted to add that Cheaper Than A Shrink is actually from another decade! It is originally off Joe Nichols’ 2009 album Old Things New. Was never released as an official single.

    Like

  5. martha September 29, 2015 / 6:38 pm

    I’ve enjoyed this album. And I have to say the cover art is really good.

    Like

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