REVIEW: Lori McKenna Provides A Wondrous Look At Womanhood With “The Balladeer”



On her latest album The Balladeer singer-songwriter extraordinaire Lori McKenna uses her prodigious lyrical skills and keen storytelling ability to craft ten songs ( with the help of friends Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose on three of them) that give a moving, up close, and contemplative look into her life as a woman in this country.

In these songs, McKenna ruminates upon the countless and sometimes endless roles that women take on and are called upon to do in their daily lives – those of a mother, wife, sister, friend, comforter, nurser, soother, and lover (to name just a few) in both a frank and graceful manner. It is through these delineations that McKenna deftly explores such universal themes as growing older, having and losing dreams, remembering and dealing with the past, being married and staying married, sisterhood, the value of friendship, and being in love.

In many ways, the opening track “This Town Is A Woman” in which McKenna brilliantly personifies a small town as a woman, sets the tone for the rest of the record.

Through its powerful first verse “She has a rough side where she buries all the scars” and its searing refrain “You memorize her every curve / She took you in and gave you nurse / She whispered all those dreams in your ear/ But if she can’t make those dreams come true/ She knows you’ll leave because they always do/ She’ll wish you well and wait for you right here”, McKenna is able to both encapsulate innumerable moments in women’s lives and set a unifying emotional stage for the rest of this intensely personal and poignant album as well.

Other highlights include the heartbreaking and tender titular track, the spirited and loving “Good Fight”, the reflective and heartwarming “When You’re My Age,” and the intimate mother’s anthem “Till You’re Grown.”

On this album, the much-lauded and multi-award-winning McKenna, by shining a light on and honoring her own existence with her immersive songs about womanhood, also by proxy shines a light on and honors the lives of all women across America as well. And that is a wonderful and radiant thing all by itself.

Credits: Lori McKenna-Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Dave Cobb-Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Brain Allen-Bass, Cello, Upright Bass, Chris Powell-Drums, Percussion, Phillip Towns-Piano, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, Harmonium, Background Vocals-Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schapman, Hillary Lindsey, Kristen Rogers, Liz Rose, produced by Dave Cobb

The Balladeer by Lori McKenna on CN Records via Thirty Tigers will be available on July 24 on her website. In celebration of the new album, McKenna will perform a special acoustic live stream concert on the same day at 8:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm CT from her hometown venue Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Available to stream via the venue’s Facebook and YouTube pages, the event will feature McKenna performing songs from the album and also serve as a fundraiser for Club Passim. All donations made during the performance will benefit the venue, which has temporarily moved online and is streaming shows nightly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

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