With an easy elegance, Martina McBride serves up a well-selected batch of country favorites on 2005’s Timeless. Balancing country-pop hits with honky-tonk standards, she foregoes the more assertive side of her vocal talents in favor of a more emotionally nuanced approach. It’s no surprise that Martina excels at slow burning torch numbers like “Help Me Make It Through the Night” or anguished ballads like “You Win Again” or “Make the World Go Away.” She gets into riskier territory when tackling feisty hard-country fare like “Thanks a Lot” or “You Ain’t Woman Enough, ” but she connects with their down-home humor and turns in strong performances. And the showpiece ballads more than make up for any shortcomings — “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “True Love Ways” are fresh and visceral renditions of classic tunes. McBride’s self-production is sparse and tasteful, benefiting from some choice guest stars (Dolly Parton, Dwight Yoakam and Rhonda Vincent among them) and excellent instrumental support. Timeless reminds modern country fans of the genre’s heritage and adds another fine album to McBride’s stellar catalogue.