Here For A Good Time: George Strait Lives It Up On LP No. 39

Today sees the release of George Strait's Here For a Good Time his 39th release counting compilations, live works and those Christmas discs. As one of Houston's most vocal champions of Strait (with a music blog, that is) Rocks Off deems the new album one of Strait's best, and also one of his most rawest and most honest. He's still King George to us, and he better be, seeing how we have a Strait tattoo on the back of our right leg.

As with any new material from Strait in recent years, there will be detractors who don't immediately hear "The Fireman" or "The Chair" and shy away, but with the help of son Bubba Strait, the man has been making some of his best music in the past five years.

Here For A Good Time is a drinking album, as was predecessor Twang (2009), which included one of the most saddest Strait songs in recent memory, "Living For The Night" with its line, "Whiskey kills the man you've turned me into."

The new album brings us "Poison" and "Drinkin' Man," about an alcoholic, and not a fun Toby Keith alkie. This one can't stay sober for nine days straight, er, strait.

When we say it's a drinking album, we mean it's a cautionary trek with the singer at 59 relating tales of the demon liquor busting up otherwise great men. He's always dealt in vulnerable people - both men and women - but now he's less a drinking buddy than a sober sage. The drinking analogies can work for people too, as we have learned over 30 years of Strait talk.

Final track "I'll Always Remember You" begins as what could be conceived as a love song, but it's really a love letter to his fans. Yeah, it's corny, with that spoken section, but for everyone who has taken the ride with him these past 30 years, it's a sweet little valentine. He hints at retiring one day, but we hope it's not for a long damned while.

Obviously with each new album, Strait proves he's not living off the heat from those first initial hits, like some artists his age. Each time fresh material comes around, that question comes up, as to whether this is just residual love and nostalgia at work from his '80s work that continues to propel him 30 years on. Our verdict is that he has grown and matured with his fan base, making him ever accessible.

Speaking of the past 30 years of Strait, stay tuned to Rocks Off as we count down our 20 favorite Strait songs later this week. Get out yer hankies, dudes.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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