12 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Lori McKenna may call her 2007 album Unglamorous, but she’s not afraid to call upon genuine Nashville royalty (namely, her friends Faith Hill and Tim McGraw) for vocal support when needed. Apart from this star connection, Lori stands upon her own merits as a singer/songwriter of uncommon authenticity and skill. On her four previous albums, this Massachusetts mother of five excelled at detailing the epiphanies of ordinary life in plain sonic settings. This time, she shifts from folk towards mainstream country while raising the upbeat quotient of her music. Brian Gallimore’s production cranks up and smoothes out McKenna’s sound, making her come across like a more poetic Jo Dee Messina at times. What hasn’t changed is the humanity of McKenna’s writing — tracks like “Falter,” “Drinkin’ Problem” and “Leaving This Life” display an insight and compassion all too rare these days. She’s capable of capturing both unbridled happiness (“I’m Not Crazy”) and seething anger (“Your Next Lover”), and the title track is an especially touching portrait of working class family life. Those partial to McKenna’s more unvarnished recordings may find these sides a bit too slick. Beneath the sheen, though, is the hardscrabble wisdom Lori has always expressed so eloquently.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Lori McKenna may call her 2007 album Unglamorous, but she’s not afraid to call upon genuine Nashville royalty (namely, her friends Faith Hill and Tim McGraw) for vocal support when needed. Apart from this star connection, Lori stands upon her own merits as a singer/songwriter of uncommon authenticity and skill. On her four previous albums, this Massachusetts mother of five excelled at detailing the epiphanies of ordinary life in plain sonic settings. This time, she shifts from folk towards mainstream country while raising the upbeat quotient of her music. Brian Gallimore’s production cranks up and smoothes out McKenna’s sound, making her come across like a more poetic Jo Dee Messina at times. What hasn’t changed is the humanity of McKenna’s writing — tracks like “Falter,” “Drinkin’ Problem” and “Leaving This Life” display an insight and compassion all too rare these days. She’s capable of capturing both unbridled happiness (“I’m Not Crazy”) and seething anger (“Your Next Lover”), and the title track is an especially touching portrait of working class family life. Those partial to McKenna’s more unvarnished recordings may find these sides a bit too slick. Beneath the sheen, though, is the hardscrabble wisdom Lori has always expressed so eloquently.

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