Strait returns with solid “Honky Tonk Time Machine”

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George Strait is frequently called the “King” of country music.  With the release of his latest album, “Honky Tonk Time Machine,” the Country Music Hall of Famer proves he isn’t ready to give up his crown anytime soon.

The release is Strait’s 30th album and first since 2015’s “Cold Beer Conversation.”   It marks a welcome return to real country music, something missing in Nashville these days.

The most impressive part of the album is that Strait shares writing credits on eight of the album’s 13 tracks.  This marks the most Strait has ever written for any one album.

Strait himself didn’t even begin to write songs for his records until 2009, with the release of “Twang.”  On this new release, Strait shares some of his best songs, with the stirring tribute to the police in “The Weight of the Badge,” the spiritual “What Goes Up,” and the album closer “Sing One with Willie.”

“Sing One with Willie” is history in the making, as it marks the first time legends George Strait and Willie Nelson have recorded together.

The track isn’t the only collaboration on the album.  Strait’s grandson sings backing vocals on the standout “God and Country Music,” about how both are worth saving, no matter what the cost.

Strait also does an exquisite cover of Johnny Paycheck’s classic “Old Violin.”  The song perfectly describes Strait’s career at the point, just as Paycheck’s original did.

In the song, the narrator wonders if he will be put out to pasture once his career is over.  He compares his career to how an old violin is retired and never played again.

The last line in the song, “We give our all to the music, and soon, we give our life” accurately sums up Strait’s career.  Music is his life.

With the release of this latest record, Strait proves he is still one of the best in country music.  He may not get the radio hits like he used to, but Strait is not afraid to make country music the way he wants to.