Thu, Mar 26, 2009 (midnight)
It’s almost hard to believe that the Martina McBride who made Shine is the same Martina McBride who made the stellar 2005 covers album Timeless, a work steeped in traditional country. Timeless was something of an anomaly in McBride’s career, certainly—her other work, including 2007’s Waking Up Laughing, has been much more in line with the contemporary Nashville sound—but Shine takes the pop-friendly approach so far that it sounds like it could have been made by someone who’d never heard a country song in her life.
A large part of the blame for that must go to new co-producer Dann Huff, who brings an in-your-face gloss to songs that are far more adult contemporary than country. Virtually all traces of twang are gone from McBride’s voice; big rock drums, walls of schmaltzy orchestration and cheesy guitar solos dominate the mixes, with traditional country instrumentation buried low or completely nonexistent.
The songs themselves are also just not that memorable. Ode to optimism “Sunny Side Up” sounds like a retread of “Happy Girl,” and obligatory socially conscious ballad “Wild Rebel Rose” can’t compare to “Independence Day” or “Concrete Angel.” Lead single “Ride” and opening track “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong” have a bit of pep to them, but the whitewashed production still makes them sound neutered. Shine positions McBride perfectly for the anonymity of country radio, but ends up robbing her of her personality in the process.