Reba - All The Woman I Am
By: Matt Bjorke
The story behind how All The Woman I Am album came about, instead of a planned Christmas album, is an interesting one because had Reba not covered Beyoncé’s “If I Were A Boy” and experienced such a hearty response from fans, this record would’ve been put off until sometime in 2011 and another single from Reba’s first Starstruck/Valory Music Company Keep On Loving You album would’ve been released to radio instead of “Turn on the Radio.” When that song came out, quite a few fans were shocked to hear such a ‘modern’ mainstream song coming out from the country superstar but in the context of current radio hits, it’s working as it finds Reba one of only four solo female artists with Top 10 hits this year. The previously mentioned “If I Were A Boy” is a song that probably didn’t need to be recorded by a country artist but it’s not a terrible song by any stretch. In fact, I can see where this one will become a massively successful single for Reba (and probably even more so after performing it on the CMA Awards telecast the week of this album’s release).
While Dann Huff’s production sensibilities undoubtedly have given Reba the contemporary sheen needed to remain relevant at country radio, her choice in songs is the real reason why she has remained relevant for over 30 years. “Cry” is an interesting ballad that tells of the real relationship to love in torch ballad fashion with crying steel guitars accenting the hurt featured in the lyrics. “When Love Gets A Hold of You” has a vibe-y feel to the melody and the lyrics from Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall and Gary Nicholson tell a story of how one starts to feel once they’ve found the love of their life. Reba doesn’t write too many songs but when she does, they often turn out very strong, something that is the case with “Somebody’s Chelsea,” which was co-written with Liz Hengber and Will Robinson. After experiencing my grandfather passing away after 64 years of marriage to my grandfather, it’s the kind of song that tugs at heartstrings with real sentiments that never get saccharine moments.
The title tune “All The Woman I Am” feels like a classic Reba country rocker in the vein of “Take It Back” and “Why Haven’t I Heard From You.” What’s most ironic about this potential hit is that it was written by three men in Kent Blazy, Marv Green and Shane McAnally. McAnally also co-wrote “Cry” and “The Day She Got Divorced with Brandy Reed and Mark D. Sanders. “The Day…” is an interesting story song ripped from the life of a woman who has had enough. While these songs are all great, the best song of this album is the acoustic, Tom Douglas-penned “When You Have A Child” which showcases the role Reba has cherished the most in her life. She may be a country star, she may be a movie and TV star she may be a businesswoman but the role she takes to heart the most is that of mother.
All The Woman I Am had the potential to be a missed-opportunity after the first two tracks on the record but – as has so often been the case – the album is saved by a meaty collection of songs that hopefully will find Reba retaining her current resurgence at radio for a radio dial without Reba is a radio dial that shouldn’t be listened to.