When describing what draws her to a song, Trisha Yearwood shares that it must take her on a journey, one “through a lot of different emotions.” The revered singer accomplishes this on her first country album in 12 years, the highly anticipated Every Girl, where she explores vulnerability, heartbreak, nostalgia and grace across 14 songs in a way that someone only of Yearwood’s caliber can bring to life.
Yearwood introduces the dynamic project with a dose of vulnerability with “Workin’ on Whiskey.” Staying true to her roots anchored in cinematic ballads, “Workin’ on Whiskey” finds her caught in the grips of a love that no longer exists, discovering that the only cure to help her escape the heartache is a glass of something dark and strong. The country superstar doesn’t tease fans when it comes to showing off her grand voice, rather using the inaugural track to display its distinct power. “I’m feeling things don’t wanna feel / Finding out I’m not made of steel / And wrestling with the memories that won’t let me go,” she elegantly sings, setting the stage for the rest of the mellifluous project.
She stays in this vein on a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “Home,” her voice carrying the song gently, but with conviction. Yearwood makes the 1977 cut she spent her teen years singing feel like an new country song, as the steel guitar is awarded a shining solo in between her soothing delivery of lyrics that recall the peaceful feeling of being home. Meanwhile,“When Lonely Calls” features one of her best vocal moments on the entire album, sending her voice soaring while honing impeccable control as she sings, “When lonely calls / It’s my name that it’s shouting / It’s my strength that it’s doubting / And like an old friend / I’ll come running, tears and all.”
In the midst of exploring sorrow, she also captures a sense of liberation on “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” conveying the sense of pain balanced with acceptance knowing that a relationship is about to end, the lead character wanting to journey though the experience in solitude. Though guest vocalist Kelly Clarkson contributes subtle harmonies, the effect of her powerful voice can still be felt. The same can be attributed to Yearwood’s husband Garth Brooks, who makes a special appearance on “What Gave Me Away.” Though sweet, the duet that touches on the blissfulness of new love is one of the album’s weaker moments, not reaching the heights of the bold number one would expect from one of country music’s most enduring couples.
Weaved in between these sophisticated ballads are strokes of modernism, like “Every Girl in This Town.” The spirited lead single brings a burst of energy to the project with its celebration of young womanhood. She pays brilliant newcomer Ashley McBryde the highest honor with a cover of “Bible and a .44,” further proving her and Brooks’ super-fan status. The trailblazing star stays in line with McBryde’s earnest delivery, allowing the acoustic guitar and poetic lyrics to align with her shimmering voice to capture the essence of a man of true stature, with Yearwood dedicating her rendition of McBryde’s tribute to her father to the memory of her own. The song is elevated by Patty Loveless’ soft background harmonies that add a welcomed and comforting presence.
But the album’s most commanding moment takes shape in “Matador,” standing as a gripping soliloquy. Yearwood embraces the striking words of masterful songwriter Gretchen Peters, who’s long been one of Nashville’s compelling storytellers. The dark narrative surrounds a tortured bullfighter and the woman who loves the “very complicated man” plagued by rage, each verse unveiling more layers to the twisted tale. Peter’s intriguing writing paired with Yearwood’s mystifying voice transports the listener into the gladiator arena where the tension of the story can be deeply felt. With soft trumpets providing a haunting effect, Yearwood’s voice captures the intense nature of the song so delicately.
And with just a piano and her voice uniting with longtime collaborator Don Henley’s, Yearwood brings Every Girl to a close with the raw “Love You Anyway.” The song has Yearwood proclaiming that no matter how severely her heart is broken by the person she’s devoted to, her love for them is so profound that it will never cease, the song capturing the strength and passion that has consistently inspired her catalogue.
With Every Girl, Yearwood proves that she still stands as one of country music’s best vocalists and storytellers, drenching the project in a cinematic theme created by piano, strings and drops of steel guitar, all bound together by her timeless voice. Yearwood’s loyal fans who have been eagerly awaiting her triumphant return with a full country album will admire Every Girl, as it embodies all the elements that made her a country icon: strong lyrics, awe-inspiring stories and a voice that beautifully captures it all.