With her new album Reckless, Martina McBride has managed to take a leap forward – by looking back. Many are already calling the Dann Huff-produced project a throwback to McBride's Nineties country-pop catalog, but that wasn't exactly what the four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year intended.
"I did say, when I first started this record, 'Dann, I want this record to be authentic and organic. . . and have kind of a Seventies [Linda] Ronstadt feel," McBride recalls to Rolling Stone Country. "But it wasn't a manufactured thing. It just happened."
Reckless is the singer's first new album of country material in five years, following 2011's Eleven. (She took a creative turn with 2014's Everlasting, covering soul and R&B songs she's loved since a child.) The time between albums didn't necessarily mean a stockpile of hundreds of songs; it just allowed for her to be meticulous about choosing tunes that spoke to her.
"Part of it was having a fresh perspective," she says. "I had five years to step back. I did a lot of things the same way I used to do things: I didn't write for this album, so I gleaned whatever I could from the amazing songwriters in [Nashville], and I wasn't under any deadline or any pressure. So I had time to really wait for the right songs to come in and find the right songs that felt authentic to me."
Much of the album is about the roller coaster ride that is love. The soaring, radio-friendly title track waxes poetic on unconditional love, while songs such as "That's the Thing About Love" paint more of a realistic, every day picture of the highs and lows of a relationship. ("Can't take any more, but you can't get enough," sings McBride.) "Low All Afternoon" has the singer consoling a mistress, while "It Ain't Pretty" plays out like a movie about a heartbroken woman's night on the town. The production throughout is a mix of modern and that Seventies feel McBride was going for — yet is minimal, allowing for the lyrics and her unparalleled vocals to take center stage.
Reckless hits stores this Friday, which is also when we'll have more of our interview with McBride on Rolling Stone Country.