Martina McBride has one of those proverbial “could sing the phone book” voices.
Fortunately, the country star has chosen much richer material for her second covers album, “Everlasting.’’
After reverently dipping into the classic country songbook on 2005’s “Timeless,” the thematically similar “Everlasting” — produced by Don Was and her first self-release on Vinyl Recordings — finds the mighty-voiced McBride deftly tackling a clutch of pop, soul, and blues tunes complete with horns, a sultry Southern organ sound, and heavenly harmonies from the McCrary Sisters.
Unsurprisingly, McBride offers solid renditions of well-known ballads like “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” the latter an intimate confessional. As gifted as she is, there is occasionally a reserved quality to her vocals and the production, with Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” not quite having the requisite boogie woogie.
But just when you’re longing for a little more grit and urgency, McBride amps and vamps it up on tunes like the finger-snapping good “My Babe” and “In the Basement,” a swinging barnburner of a duet with Kelly Clarkson. Letting their hair down, the pair bring out the best in each other, making you wish you’d gotten an invite to the party.
ESSENTIAL “In the Basement”