For many years, Reba McEntire made albums, toured, and did an occasional movie. But in the last few years she spread her wings and sang on Broadway in "Annie Get Your Gun," then starred in a popular sitcom, "Reba," on the WB Network. She needed "Room to Breathe," hence the title of this new album, her first studio disc in four years. It marks a welcome return to country music for McEntire. She touches on country/R&B in the Tanya Tucker-like "Love Revival." She delves into gospel on "Sky Full of Angels" and into a mournful country ballad, "If I Had Any Sense at All." She teams up with mountain music diva Alison Krauss for transcendent harmony singing on "Once You've Learned to Be Lonely." Reba has surely absorbed the influence of the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack by not just using Krauss, but also her bandmate, Dan Tyminski, for harmony on the inspiring "I'm Gonna Take that Mountain." As opposed to some past albums, Reba seems much less deliberate in choosing "commercial" material. There is some modern-sounding country, but she also takes chances on the dramatic "Moving Oleta," about a man taking his wife to a nursing home because of Alzheimer's. "She can't recall his name and she's the only love he's known," Reba sings. Don't expect to hear it on the radio, but it's a very tasteful, topical choice from a reinvigorated McEntire.
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