Lori McKenna – Massachusetts

Lori Mckenna - Massachusetts

Lori Mckenna’s album cover for Massachusetts

Lori McKenna sings about realism as she doesn’t fantasize about things that are unattainable. This is something that stays in the songs she writes and what makes up much of her newest record Massachusetts.

Lori has the amazing ability to capture small-town life in her lyrics in such a way that it’s a fair observation from the inside-out rather than an external statement or judgement. The qualities she points out in her songs are something that only someone who has experienced living in a small town would pick up on and thus has become an important focal point to Lori’s recent recordings. Recorded in a barn-house in her homestate of Massachusetts, Lori’s stories aren’t diminishing of this setting but rather a romanticization of everyday normal life. She’s taken what she has seen and lived and put it into song without prettying it up but still showing a sense of admiration and appreciation toward these experiences.

Smaller And Smaller is the primary example of Lori’s writing on the subject as she sings about the relationships between people in a town where everybody knows everyone else, first-hand or by association through someone else – in a more localized version of the idea behind the phrase ‘what a small world’. It’s both in who and how people know everyone else. In How Romantic Is That, Lori uses the small-town application to define a romance where she sings not about the cliché but the realistic things that couples are more likely to do to show continued love and self-defined romance. It starts point-blank: “Forget about Paris – or the Pacific Ocean/The honeymoon lasted 24 hours and was a town away.” The second verse goes “I might meet you at the door with someone’s math homework/Or you’ll work a double-shift so we can get some bills paid,” as she acknowledges settling down as being truly romantic in the chorus. She means it several songs later in Better With Time where she sings lines like “my left hand still fits into your right hand” and “it’s a worn out shirt – but it’s still my favorite.”

Like Lori’s last album, this record encompasses a central theme throughout placed amongst folk and country melodies that are never overbearing in either genre. 2011’s Lorraine focused on parenthood, life and death in such a spectacular way both from the point of view of a parent and of a child. This record centres more around relationship troubles in such a way that no blame is pointed, no anger is put forward and giving up or letting go isn’t an option. Once again, Lori takes the ideals of acknowledgement and struggles and she keeps pushing on resulting in an album’s worth of tunes that show off her strengths as someone who takes regular everyday life and puts it into song so authentically that you almost feel like you’ve lived that life too. Four stars

1. Salt
2. My Love Follows You Where You Go
3. Susanna
4. Smaller And Smaller
5. Make Every Word Hurt
6. Shake
7. How Romantic Is That
8. Shouting
9. Better With Time
10. Take Me With You When You Go
11. Love Can Put It Back Together
12. Grown Up Now

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