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George Strait, ‘Love is Everything’

“King” George may have announced his retirement from extensive touring with his current “Cowbody Rides Away” jaunt, but this release — his 40th! — should reassure his fans that he’s not galloping out of the studio anytime soon. “Love Is Everything” is not his strongest release of recent years, with a few too many generic midtempo cuts and stately ballads. But Strait is the type of consistent artist and singer whose marginal cuts are often better than some folks’ best and that is true here, too. His voice is in superb form and when the songs match his skill, the album sparkles. Among the highlights is “That’s What Breaking Hearts Do,” which has a zippy barn-dance swing in its step to match the solemn tears-in-its-beer and lovely harmonies, conjuring sensibility similar to Bruce Springsteen’s “All That Heaven Will Allow.” “Blue Melodies” is a reminder of how effectively a heart can be broken by a voice, an acoustic guitar, and lyrics that succinctly summarize when a sentiment is “too sad to sing.” (Out now)



ESSENTIAL “That’s What Breaking Hearts Do”