Reba McEntire proves you don’t need to be very fancy to be successful. She can dress up and look glamorous without overdoing it, and she has a down-to-earth personality that has only gotten more refined over the years. The country legend established an empire that includes a clothing line and a restaurant chain and became an eternal icon of Americana with a larger-than-life status. Her name, her contralto voice with vibrato gymnastics, her thick southern drawl, and her red hair combine to conjure familiarity with her from the media. Not That Fancy has 14 tracks that include simplified or acoustic versions of huge hits, 3 that have never been released, and an additional new song.
Actually, Not That Fancy is not just about music. It’s also the title of her book, Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons in Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots. That makes it the companion album. Beyond that, it’s a lifestyle. People who grow up on farms and ranches do manual labor and get dirty, and as children get exposed early on to themes like birth and death and tending to animals’ needs. They also learn about self-sufficiency by living off the land. It’s that independent spirit that’s part of what makes Reba so appealing.
“Consider Me Gone” begins by mentioning a big problem in the relationship: Her man has lost interest in talking beyond superficial things and has closed himself off emotionally. It’s catchy, it rhymes, and the repetition of “Consider me gone” sounds like the toll of a bell. Perhaps the best part is the verse,”If I'm not the one thing you can't stand to lose/If I'm not that arrow to the heart of you/If you don't get drunk on my kiss/If you think you can do better than this/Then I guess we're done/Let's not drag this on/Consider me gone,” a definition of romance that is deep like poetry with a few simple lines.
“Seven Minutes in Heaven” is brand-new and beautiful. Someone has passed and has loved ones sending him prayers, someone who loved to fish when he was alive. Reba is singing about what she’d do if she had a brief visit to heaven before her time comes:
“If I had seven minutes in Heaven/I know just what I'd do/Take a walk down those golden streets/And find a quiet corner booth/I wouldn't spend all my seconds asking God questions/'Cause He knows I'll be back soon/If I had seven minutes in Heaven/I'd spend them all with you.” In other words, it’s better to not waste time wondering when you could be doing something.
Not That Fancy is the opposite of the story she sang when she covered the crossover pop hit “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry, the last track on the album. It’s about a mother who dresses up her daughter and pimps her out to make money for the family, promising her she’d end up having a better life, and the adult daughter doesn’t hold any hostility against her for it. On the other hand, what it does have in common is the mention of dark themes. Reba is not afraid to sing about sad and painful subjects.
This album is a testament to Reba’s offering of new songs and different presentations of classic hits. Not That Fancy is also a way of life with admirable qualities like resilience, survival, determination, and honesty, as well as difficult emotions such as loneliness and sadness from breaking up. Reba shows that her philosophy of simplicity is straightforward and insightful.
Written by Camille Perkins