Any artist worth her weight in gold and platinum album sales will occasionally take musical risks.
Such was the case with Reba McEntire on her 1995 album, “Starting Over,” a collection of cover tunes that drew a mixed response from country radio and record buyers.
However, with today’s release of “What If It’s You,” early indications are that McEntire is delivering an album that will more than meet expectations.
The first single, “The Fear of Being Alone,” is currently at No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
“I’m very proud of ‘Starting Over,”’ McEntire says. “It wasn’t a failure - it sold quite a few records - but it didn’t do as well as I thought it would. But you just collect and regroup and go on and do something else.”
McEntire says she learned from her last project and was extremely attentive in creating her new album.
“I always calculate my risks. It’s like a horse race to me. I stew over it. I worry about it and think about it. I have to go with my gut feeling,” she says.
“(But) when you get lambasted on a project, you do take that into consideration, and if it didn’t work, you say, ‘What would work? Let’s go fresher and cleaner, no remakes. Let’s try something different. Let’s use our band and a new co-producer and a new studio.”’
The new studio to which McEntire refers is part of her new Music Row office complex, Starstruck, which opened its doors in July.
In addition to a studio move, there were other substantial changes in the production of “What If It’s You.” Instead of using studio musicians, McEntire opted to use her road band, and instead of co-producing with MCA Nashville President Tony Brown, McEntire co-produced with John Guess.
“John has been my engineer in the studio since the Jimmy Bowen days,” McEntire says.
McEntire searched diligently for the right songs to record for this outing.
“I definitely think they have a preconceived notion,” she says of the songs publishers pitch to her. “That’s why I like to go with an album like I did this year.
“I think people are going to say it’s totally different and (they) didn’t expect me to do this. That’s what has sustained my career as long as it has: not doing the predictable.”
McEntire, who sports a new, shorter haircut, will tour this fall and resume her roadwork in 1997. She says she plans to take a year off from acting and other endeavors to devote time solely to her music.
The current tour dates are exposing McEntire fans to her new music and her new look.
“I’ve been wanting to cut it for two years,” McEntire says of her hair. “It makes me feel younger. It makes me feel more like me, the tomboy that I am.”
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