Martina McBride’s debut studio album was 1992’s THE TIME HAS COME. None of the songs on it cracked the Top 10 and two of the three singles didn’t even make the Top 40. It wouldn’t be long though before Martina’s fortunes would change and she’d become known for such songs as: ‘Independence Day’, ‘Wild Angels’, ‘Valentine’, ‘I Love You’, ‘This One’s For the Girls’, and ‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden’. Martina’s ninth studio album was WAKING UP LAUGHING (2007, RCA). It peaked at #2 on the U.S. Top Country Albums Chart and at #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Martina produced the album and in the liner notes writes: ``Thank You, first and foremost, to God. Hopefully I am using Your gifts in a way that pleases You”.
The album’s opening track, 'If I Had Your Name', is a modern country song delivered with attitude: “If I was a wise man I would be doin’ what I should be doin’ by now/Cause you’re like a new key made with the wrong cut/Stuck tryin’ to break into my home/You’re like a bottle sent with a message/But you’re sinkin’ like a stone/If I had your name/I’d be changin’ it by now”. ‘Cry Cry (‘Til the Sun Shines)’ was penned by Marv Green, Chris Lindsey, Hillary Lindsey, and Aimee Mayo. It’s an upbeat modern country number on which Brent Mason, Dan Dugmore, and Paul Worley play electric guitars. It offers hope: “We’re all here just tryin’ to live our lives/Payin’ our electric bills and spendin’ up our time/When there ain’t a friend to be found/You can’t break through the concrete clouds/When the rain, when the rain comes crashin’ down/Cry, cry ‘til the sun shines baby/Cry, cry ‘til the sun shines/It’s gonna be alright (2X)”. Keith Urban sings harmony vocals and plays a guitar solo on ‘Tryin’ to Find a Reason’, a sad country ballad: “I don’t know how long this pain will last/All I know is it can’t go on forever/Isn’t this just pointless anyway/If you’re tryin’ to find a reason to stay?/It’s hard to admit it, what we know inside/We’ve tried everything, everything but goodbye/Say goodbye”.
‘For These Times’ is a gospel infused song featuring The Settles Connection and harmony vocals by Vicki Hampton, Kim Fleming, and Robert Bailey. These lyrics take the listener to church: “Blessed is the believer who knows love is our redeemer and the only breath of life/For these times in which we live/Well, give me a heart full of tender mercy and arms I will open wide/Yeah, give me words full of loving kindness/And hands ready to hold up a light/For these times in which we live (2X)”. ‘Anyway’ is one of two songs written by Brad Warren, Brett Warren, and Martina. It hit #5 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart. ‘Anyway’ is a marvelous inspirational anthem: “You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach/And you know it might not ever come your way/Dream it anyway/God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good/And when I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should/But I do it anyway, I do it anyway”. Gordon Mote plays piano and The Nashville String Machine is used to good effect on the song.
‘How I Feel’ is a happy country/pop tune: “Your lucky coat, the first day of Fall/When you wake up laughin’ just because/An old church door that stays wide open/A perfect heart that’s never been broken/That’s how I feel when I’m with you (2X)/That’s how I feel/That’s how I feel when I’m with you”. Brett Warren’s harmony vocals are terrific here! ‘I’ll Still Be Me’ is a pretty ballad on which a lady declares her steadfast devotion to her man: “I’ll still be me/Just a normal girl from small town nowhere/I’ll still hold your hand and wear this ring/I’ll still be me/If you can count on one thing, I’ll be here/The same girl that you’ve known for centuries/I’ll still be me.../Empires could rise and fall/The sun could swallow the moon/And I don’t hold a crystal ball/But I promise you/I’ll still be me”.
‘Beautiful Again’ is a breezy country song on which Carolyn Dawn Johnson contributes harmony vocals. The lyrics display a positive outlook on life: “Her boyfriend said ‘I’m way too young to get married’/But she made up her mind that somehow she was gonna find a way to keep that baby she carried/And he just walked away/And then she smiles ‘cause she knows in the end/The world gets beautiful, beautiful again”. Steve Nathan plays the B-3 on ‘Everybody Does’. These lyrics offer hope: “How many times have you said ‘He’s the one’/And found out that he wasn’t?/Always thinking it’s gonna hurt forever/But then one day it doesn’t anymore/You’ve come so far/Still a long way to go/Just remember, you’re never alone”.
Billy Montana, Jenai, and Ilya Toshinsky wrote ‘House of A Thousand Dreams’. Mandolin, steel guitar, pump organ, and accordion are used on this quaint country story song about a family who doesn’t have much, but they have each other. Last up is the touching story song ‘Love Land’. Here is part of it: “Amazing all the progress we’ve made since the days of Thomas Edison/Still only God gives life in spite of modern medicine/Doctor`s voices whispered ‘We did all that we could do, but your baby wasn’t strong enough to make it the whole nine months’/And as my world broke in two/He said `I`ll carry you to Love Land’/For the longest time I blamed myself/Thought I was paying for my mistakes/But we tried again/Now we’re watchin’ him blow three candles out/He’s Daddy’s little man”.
WAKING UP LAUGHING is a splendid return to modern country music after Martina’s 2005 venture into country and western classics on TIMELESS. Martina’s vocals are strong indeed on this 2007 release. If you are a fan of Trisha Yearwood or Kelly Clarkson’s voices, you will enjoy Martina’s. Musically, there is a good mix of slow, fast, and mid-tempo songs. The most common lyrical theme is hope in the midst of life’s problems. The trials included on this album include romantic relationship break-ups, poverty, and the loss of a child. There are also a couple happy love songs included. The pictures of Martina that come with the CD are gorgeous! I’m rating WAKING UP LAUGHING 95%. For more info visit: www.martinamcbride.com.