Martina McBride understands that, from an outside perspective, there’s an odd kind of juxtaposition in her “Shine All Night” tour with Trace Adkins.
He’s tall and baritone, with something of a dark image — which probably has something to do with his black hat, since it takes an obvious sense of humor to record something like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” McBride, on the other hand, is sprightly, energetic and cheerfully optimistic. Alongside each other, they’re like the sun and the shadow.
But, she says, it’s working.
“It is interesting,” McBride, 43, acknowledges with a laugh. “At first glance it seems like an odd pairing. But when you look at it, he’s been around as long as I have — a long time. He has a lot of hits, a lot of great songs, some of my favorites. A great voice. He’s raising daughters and sings about family.
“Because of the size difference, there’s a little bit of a juxtaposition, sure. And I don’t have a song like ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.’ But I think it’s just a great night of music, and from what I can see, the fans feel the same way.”
For McBride, the tour finds her still promoting her ninth album, “Shine.” The 11-song set debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts when it came out in March 2009 — her third release to hit that mark. It also spawned a pair of Top 20 country singles, “Ride” and “I Just Call You Mine,” while a third, “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong,” is currently climbing.
Though it has yet to be certified gold, “Shine” has been a solid addition to McBride’s catalog, which includes seven platinum-or-better albums since 1992 — including 1997’s triple-platinum “Evolution” — and 17 Top 10 country hits. She’s also won five Country Music Association Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards and a 2003 American Music Award for Favorite Female Country Vocalist.
She’s past the point of having to prove herself, it would seem, but McBride says commercial success still motivates her.
“I do think about it,” admits the singer, who was born Martina Schiff in Kansas and now resides in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband, sound engineer John McBride, and their three daughters. “You do want to be played on the radio; that’s part of the dream, to hear yourself on the radio. That’s a pretty cool feeling.
“But a lot of things come into play for me — first and foremost if I love the song. Then, are my fans going to like it? Do I think radio’s gonna play this? Is it gonna be good for my live show? Sometimes the answer is not ‘yes’ to all those things, but if I still love it, I’ll record it anyway.”
She’s not averse to change, however. “Shine” marks the first time McBride has shared production duties on a studio album since 2003’s “Martina” album. This time she enlisted Dann Huff, a longtime friend and guitarist who started as a rocker — with the bands White Heart and Giant — and has since become a powerhouse producer and songwriter in Nashville, with credits that include Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, Wynonna and many others.
“Working with (Huff) just brought a new perspective into an 18-year career,” explains McBride, who co-wrote one of the album’s songs, “Sunny Side Up.” “He’s really positive and very free — there’s no one right way to do something with him, so he’s up to try anything. I knew I was in good hands, and the music was in good hands.
“And having him there freed me up to sing and not necessarily worry about every detail of the production. It was a huge relief to be able to breathe and relax and sing and get really into my vocals like I like to do ... and still have a lot of input on the sound of the record.”
And, McBride adds, there’s nothing wrong with shaking things up every now and then, even with a successful track record.
“I think consistency is good,” she says. “My music has been very consistent, and that’s a good thing. I don’t think you need to go all over the map with every album. But we really have tried to push forward and do something a little different, whether sonically or song-wise, just to make people still be interested to see, ‘What’s she doing now? What’s she doing next?’
“A good balance between knowing what to expect and new things is important.”
So what is McBride planning to do next? It’s a question she doesn’t have an answer for yet, as she’s “right now focused on this tour and on (‘Shine’).” But at this juncture, she’s confident the music will be there when she’s ready.
“I’m always looking for songs,” McBride says, “and I’m always getting them, all kinds of stuff, which I think is a good thing. I think it’s a positive sign that songwriters are still excited to get a cut on my record. That says something to me. That makes me really excited.
“And at this point in my career, I’ve made what I think is my best album yet, which is also exciting to me. Sometimes, I think we don’t take the time to enjoy what we’ve done ’cause we’re always worried about the next thing we’re doing. So I’m trying to enjoy this a little bit more.”
Martina McBride, Trace Adkins and Sarah Buxton perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 18) at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $15 general admission, $35 and $55 reserved, with a $44 general admission four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.placenet.com.
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