The marketing ruse is so glaring you will need your shades on. In their desperate attempts of milking as much as they can off their departed cash cow Tim McGraw, Curb Records has released another compilation album. After seven "greatest hits" packages, you would wonder when enough is enough. But it's not just the nature of this release that is infuriating, it's also the timing. Last year, just before McGraw premiered his Big Machine record, Curb released a collection of McGraw's duets he had recorded over the years. This year, just before McGraw releases his sophomore Big Machine Record, Curb beats their rival imprint to the game with the release of 12 of McGraw's biggest love songs. Nevertheless, this isn't all. Curb Records has deliberately entitled this album as "Love Story" in hopes that avid fans of Taylor Swift will find this CD while they are looking up their icon's Grammy nominated album of the same titular.
Marketing antics aside, this Walmart exclusive CD "Love Story" is prepping us up for Valentine's Day where fans will gulp up anything in the name of love. But honestly speaking, if you have never owned a McGraw CD, this is well worth a purchase for a couple of reasons. First, though McGraw has made a career out of machismo with songs such as "Grown Men Don't Cry" or the semi-religious "Drugs or Jesus" "he is a softie at heart with his share of romantic odes. And this collection brings them altogether from his rookie "Not a Moment too Soon" rookie days to his big super star heydays of 2010's "Still." What sets McGraw from the countless romantic crooners out there is that McGraw is not into maudlin one dimensional "I love you" love songs. His love songs hardly unfurl in the abstract, they are often contextualized in carefully crafted language and stories. Take a listen to his 1997 single "Everywhere." Instead of just going pastel in his description of how much he misses his paramour, McGraw goes all the way geo-motional: "Albuquerque waitin' out a blizzard/Arizona dancin' 'cross the desert/Watchin' the sun set in Monterey/Girl I swear just the other day you were/Down in Georgia pickin' them peaches/In Carolina barefoot on the beaches/No matter where you choose to be/In my heart I'll always see you."
Further, McGraw has a way of getting passed the superficial to the gritty stuff of relationships that make his female fans swoon. On "My Best Friend" McGraw articulates what every woman longs for in a relationship: a man who is not just interested in her physical assets but one that treats her like his trusted confidant. Yet, love doesn't always have to be profound in order to be effective: "Just to Make You Smile" is as simple as the titular suggests, yet it is one of those songs that melt hearts quicker than Valentine's Day chocolate flowers. 2002's "Unbroken," on the other hand, is a post-Millennium update of "Just to See You Similar" albeit to lesser effect. Yet, McGraw knows that love is not necessarily always rosy and sweet; on songs such as "She's My Kind of Rain" and "When the Stars Go Blue" McGraw exhibits his tenacity to fight it out even when things go weary.
A second reason why this is worthy purchase is the two never released songs tail ended on this disc: "I Just Love You" and "What About You." Judging from the production styles --- both of which have that "Everywhere" mid-tempo balladry hooks --- it sounds like both were lifted from McGraw's vault from the 90s. Since both of which are stellar efforts with sounds in sync with the best of McGraw's 90s hits, they are worth the price of this disc. Though "Love Story" may stink with some underhanded marketing on Curb Records' part, it still doesn't belie the fact that this is a gorgeous collection of love songs --- the kind that shows depth and dimension.