It feels like Trisha Yearwood’s music career has been on hold for too long.
Now in her 15th season of her Food Network cooking program, she just released her first studio album of new material in 12 years. And on Saturday night at the Orpheum Theatre, she headlined her first Twin Cities concert in five years, though it seems longer.
Her 90-minute performance reminded a full house what a lovely voice Yearwood has -- and what a terrific talker she is.
As with her TV show, her concert isn’t scripted. So, at the risk of calling this the Oversharing Tour (her words), the chatty Georgia native shared about the challenges of going through menopause. And then she mused that when Beyonce confronts menopause, she’ll just say “Stop.” And it will.
Yearwood, 55, interacted with vocal fans like the one who wanted to tout the Gopher football team’s victory over Penn State; Yearwood countered that she’s a Georgia Bulldog and was more interested in the high-profile SEC clash between LSU and Alabama. Honest response but it fell on deaf ears.
When it comes to singing, Yearwood could do no wrong, though the sound mix sometimes buried her voice. (It might have helped if the small cluster of speakers had been suspended instead of situated on the stage.)
Twenty-eight years into her recording career, Yearwood still sounded splendid on ballads including “Georgia Rain,” “The Song Remembers When,” “Walkaway Joe,” “How Do I Live,” “On a Bus to St. Cloud” and the Frank Sinatra saloon song, “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” from the first of her two 2019 releases, “Let’s Be Frank,” a collection of Sinatra-associated standards.
Props, too, for a rote but spot-on reading of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good,” which manifested the richness and potency of Yearwood’s voice. Ditto for her own soulfully smoky “Wrong Side of Memphis.”
Some of Yearwood’s up-tempo oldies like “She’s in Love with Boy” and “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)” sounded like dated 1990s country-pop. Her new single, “Every Girl in This Town,” felt a little generic. “Workin’ on Whiskey,” another new track from this summer’s “Every Girl” album, didn’t seem like a good metaphor for someone not associated with drinking songs.
However, the new “Bible and a .44,” a salute to a righteous father, was the kind of sentimental winner that plays well with country crowds just about anywhere.
Well aware that she was in Minnesota, Yearwood gave a nod to us by saving the wistful “On a Bus to St. Cloud” for her final number, ending it by humming Prince’s “Purple Rain.” That would have been an artful touch to finish it. However, she then offered the first verse and chorus after chorus and sing-along “woo-hoo-hoo-hoos” of the Prince classic, a cliched move by singers visiting the Twin Cities.
After spending the last several years as a special guest on hubby Garth Brooks’ tours, Yearwood mentioned him a few times but didn’t share that he was backstage. However, she did let everyone know that they share musicians.
Onstage, she was accompanied by fiddler/guitarist Jimmy Mattingly and backup singers Robert Bailey and Vicki Hampton from Garth’s band, as well as guitarist Johnny Garcia, keyboardist Steve Cox and singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist Karyn Rochelle, who are in her band but have merged into Garth’s.