Despite the commercial veneer now slathered over Lori’s signature vocal quiver and rootsy acoustics, the heart of her songwriting is still very much grounded in the bittersweet reality that originally drew fans to her music. Her lyrics are full of anger, isolation, struggle, loss, and even death. There are also moments of great joy, love, and hope. Unfortunately, these organic themes are often dampened here by cluttered production.
The Dobro driven “I Know You” shows off Lori’s fierce vocal strength. Softer songs like the title track and “I’m Not Crazy” luster less while extolling the virtues of the simple life. Tim McGraw lends his voice to the al-anon anthem “Drinkin’ Problems”, and the sweet and catchy “Witness To Your Life” is one of the finer glossy tracks.
“Falter” and the sadly beautiful finale “Leaving This Life” return to the more organic style associated with McKenna’s music, while “How To Survive” delves back into a classic country sound replete with weeping steel and fiddle. Faith Hill sings backup on the former, and the latter features backing vocals by Buddy Miller.
This album is definitely worth listening to, especially if you like country music. But it fails to recapture the artful charm of Bittertown or Paper Wings & Halo. Lori McKenna is currently on tour with Trisha Yearwood.
I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below.