Originally published in the October 05, 1999 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
Martina McBride’s new album is called Emotion. But with the speed of the record’s new single, the only emotion she’s feeling these days is elation.
For Martina, the song was love at first note. “My co-producer, Paul Worley, brought that into the studio,” she says. “He put it in the tape player and I just couldn’t believe it. ‘Oh my gosh,’ I said, ‘that’s awesome!’ It just had some kind of a magic to it, something that made me want to hear it over and over again.”
Martina, who’s carved out a reputation for being a belter, soft-pedals “I Love You” in a breathier vocal style.
“People have commented on it,” she says. “You know, I’ve done all kinds of singing on my albums. Though I think single-wise, this is the first thing we’ve put out that has that softer voice. It’s really a young-sounding song. I tried singing it in all kinds of voices, but the lyric and the melody just really don’t work with a big delivery.”
“I Love You” received a big delivery, however, when it was included on the soundtrack of the Julia Roberts movie Runaway Bride. Part of the song is played during a pivotal scene.
“I’ve never really heard my voice in the middle of a movie like that,” Martina says. “I took my daughters Delaney and Emma with me to see it. I’m a big Julia Roberts fan, so to look up there on the screen and see her and hear my voice behind it was a pretty surreal experience.
“You just want to yell to everybody, ‘That’s me! I’m singing that song!'”
Martina says Emotion is quite different than her previous record, the double platinum-selling Evolution.
“Musically, I wanted to have a simpler sound this time,” she explains. “Evolution was a very big-sounding record. It had a lot of layers and was very ‘produced.’ That was what I wanted then. But for this record we had one specific framework — to make it a simpler sound.”
The simplicity worked.
“It’s always difficult for me to describe my own music,” Martina says, “but I don’t think I’ve ever found a collection of songs that move me like this. The lyrics are honest and true. This album speaks to me as a listener in a way that I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced before with my own songs.”
Martina’s new music is speaking to others as well. She says she can tell people are hearing “I Love You” because she looks out in the crowd at shows and sees them singing along. But “I Love You” isn’t the only new song audiences are getting into.
“I’ve been putting another one from Emotion called ‘Love’s the Only House’ into my shows,” she says. “I think it’s going to be the second single. I’ve been performing it live since the middle of June because I just couldn’t wait.
“I felt like it was something people needed to hear and would really respond to,” she says of the song, which she describes as being in the same “emotional, passionate” vein of “A Broken Wing” and “Independence Day” — which were also live-audience favorites before they were released as singles. “So that’s very encouraging,” she says.
Even though Martina admits the new album has some non-traditional country elements, she insists she never set out to make a pop CD.
“With any album you put out, you’re always nervous about whether it’s going to be accepted or not,” she says. “I know it’s probably not the most traditional country album ever. But you know what? I’ve never really made traditional country albums. So in a way, I don’t think it’s going to be too shocking for people. Hopefully, they expect me to do something different with each album.”
Save for her debut album, The Time Has Come, Martina has co-produced each of her albums. And Emotion is no exception.
“I was involved with every little detail,” she says with a smile. “Everything from arrangements, to the drum sounds, to the spacing between each song on the record. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. There’s no right or wrong way, but for me, producing is really fun and exciting.”
Martina’s biggest fans of Emotion may well be her daughters.
“They love it,” she says. ” ‘I Love You’ will come on the radio and they’ll both come from whatever room of the house they’re in just dancing and singing. They’re both really musical.
“Emma can sing on pitch already,” she continues. “She started doing that at about 14 months, and she’s 18 months now. When I sing things to her, she mimics it back to me exactly like I sang it to her. It’s kind of weird to see how kids develop.
Martina and her husband John will have some much-deserved time off soon.
“We’re holding the fall open,” she says. “We’ll work probably from February to August of next year really hard. Then I’m taking off because Delaney is starting kindergarten. So we’ll be at home for the whole school year.
“I’m looking forward to having a consistent routine,” says the working mother, “and getting involved with all the things you can do when you’re in town. For the kids, too. I wanted to put Emma in Gymboree (an interactive play program for parents and children), but I thought, ‘When is she ever going to go?’ because we’re never home. She doesn’t know the difference, of course, but I really wish she could have that experience. So staying home will be a good thing for everybody.”
Meanwhile, Martina’s relishing the new music.
“This album feels like me, like where I am right now.” she says. “I’m really proud of it.”