What Martina McBride intended her latest album to be was a simple gift, but what she wound up with is a timeless treasure.
The multi-million selling vocalist gathered a group of enduring musical chestnuts and assembled a small band to record them live in the studio. The result, a collection titled Everlasting, is a stunning listening experience, with McBride finding fresh nuances in familiar lyrics and working within beautifully crafted new arrangements of cherished melodies.
She breathes new life into ballads like “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “Do Right Woman” by digging into the deeper meaning of their messages. McBride is equally refreshing on such tempo tunes as “Wild Night” and “Suspicious Minds.” Motown gets some new twists in her versions of “Come See About Me” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.” The 1967 Linda Ronstadt ballad “Little Bit of Rain” becomes a standout moment on McBride’s new record. So is the reworking of the 1966 Etta James/Sugar Pie DeSanto romp “In the Basement,” where McBride is joined by pop star Kelly Clarkson. Soulful Gavin DeGraw is her duet partner on the revival of the 1962 Sam Cooke classic “Bring It on Home to Me.”
“I just meant this album to be like a gift,” says Martina McBride. “I wanted to do something different. What I love about this record is that you can just relax with it. I wanted to make an album that you could put on when you’re cooking or when you have friends over. It is like comfort food.”
Everlasting is a departure for Martina McBride in several respects. The pop repertoire and her blue-eyed soul musical approach are certainly new for her. This is also the first collection on her own label. And it marks her first album collaboration with superstar producer Don Was, famed for his work with The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, The B-52s, Ringo Starr and more.
“I had worked with him once before, a long time ago, on a duet with Bob Seger for the Hope Floats movie soundtrack [in 1998],” McBride recalls. “And I have run into him a few times since then. I’ve always wanted to work with him. I just instinctively knew he was the right choice for this record. He loves havin the band all together recording in one room, so that’s what we did. The musicians were very excited to work with him as well. “Don is very ‘in the moment’ and focused. When you have his attention, you have ALL of his
attention. I loved working with him. He’s so laid back, so sweet and so funny. He has this vibe that just puts everybody at ease and his approach is very musical and organic. “I’d taken a lot of time and given a lot of thought about what kind of record I wanted to make and what direction I wanted to go in. Choosing the songs was like going on a big treasure hunt. It really just came down to what I felt most comfortable singing and the songs I was drawn to. "Then I thought, ‘How do I approach this?’ Don said, ‘Your voice is the common thread. You might be singing songs that are different from what you normally do, but people just want to hear you sing.’ Then I relaxed about it and realized, ‘I don’t have to try to be something else. I’m just going to be me.’ If Elton John made a country record, you wouldn’t want him to put on a fake Southern accent. You’d want to hear Elton John.”