Country music is in the shitter right now, but George Strait
is still here like Prudential, still holding it down and keeping it real after all these years. Never one for the outlaw poses, pinup tactics or misplaced nostalgia of most successful country acts, Strait has always traveled the road's middle with tunes that aren't afraid to show some heart. And his catalog is deeper than Dostoevski at 20,000 leagues, as evidenced by concert set lists constructed from more than 50 No. 1 singles. Naysayers who carp that Strait should have retired his hat in the Reagan era probably overlooked Honkytonkville
, a sublime '03 effort that was Strait's most satisfying in years. Heck, a few more albums like that and we might even be able forgive him for spawning Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw. Then again, maybe we won't.