By: Tony Manfetano
Towards the end of an album, probably right after a song about having a cold one while driving down a back road with someone you just picked up from a bar, that is where you will find most artists redemption song. One cannot say their words lack heart or are without meaning, but some singers just have not experienced enough to honestly need it.
Lee Ann Womack comes out of the gate letting us know her latest album, The Way I’m Livin’, means something. And she is going to make sure you get it. The pure emotion in these songs emanates from someone who truly believes what she is singing. Or is that good to make us think she does. I presume it’s the former.
Lee Ann drops it on us with the very first track, Prelude:Fly. Featuring only her vocals over acoustic guitar. This spiritual ditty shows us with brevity and simplicity what we are in for. To talk about how great her voice is at this point would be trite. Any aspiring female artist who does not have Lee Ann Womack on her list of influences may want to consider a new career path.
The title track picks up the pace a little with a classic country music tale of, “you know I’d change if I could, but bein’ bad, it feels so good”, to borrow a line from the song. Written by Adam Wright, this song pairs a soulful groove with Lee Ann’s outstanding ability.
Without denying the religious tones of the album, I would be remiss to imply that the lack of rock guitars and electronic drums takes the rebel out of this record. Lee Ann’s rendition of the Julie Miller tune, Don’t Listen To The Wind, gives us an ominous minor key string intro leading up to deep drums and rhythm. The hard four count and steel guitar makes this song sound like something you would be likely to hear in an old Nashville honky-tonk.
On Same kind of Different the artist lends her talents to the lyrical prowess of writers Natalie Hemby and Adam Hood. This song offers a cool spin on the “opposites attract” trope, and with no appearance from MC Skat Kat. What about a song to swing my sweet baby to on the dance floor, you ask? Tomorrow Night In Baltimore answers your beckoning with electric guitar and upbeat timing no women could resist being drunkenly twirled to under neon chandeliers in backwoods ballrooms.
Track listing on this album makes all the difference. We get to go on a moving forty-six minute journey with Lee Ann Womack. The Way I’m Livin’ is Lee Ann’s debut from new label Sugar Hill Records. Indeed, we know what late career label changes could mean for an artist, but Womack has solidified her place among music row royalty taking one more win in the fight to save traditional country.
Find all of Lee Ann Womack’s tour dates at LeeAnnWomack.com. If you are a fan of true country I would not miss this album. If not, check it out anyway. You might learn something.