Lori McKenna – The Tree

Lori McKenna - The TreeLori McKenna has never been a more sought-after songwriter in Nashville as she has been these past few years. While she’s been writing and recording music for nearly 20 years, she’s also been writing hits for some of country’s biggest names for nearly that long and and reached a new career peak several years back with back-to-back Grammy-wins for Best Country Song. This year, she’s one of the songwriters responsible for Carrie Underwood‘s Cry Pretty and had a hand in writing for the film The Star Is Born (Always Remember Us This Way). When she’s not working on songs for others, she’s writing and recording for herself and on The Tree, her 10th album, she remains on point.

The Tree stays true to much of what Lori has written about over the years. She sings as a mother, a daughter, a wife, someone who values families and relationships, and small town living – past and present. It’s where she shines. She captures the essence of any devoted mother on A Mother Never Rest and does it so authentically that you listen and consider your own mother, probably on a sunny Sunday afternoon back in your childhood while you and your siblings are playing outside and she’s at home doing laundry, cleaning, singing to herself. Is she happy?

It’s the imagery that makes Lori such a strong songwriter. And she does it in the simplest of words and shortest of phrases but she’s so effective. People Get Old gathers and collects memories of your father and now, many years later, you both still see each other as the ages you were 30 years ago. Young and dependent on him, rather than the other way around. Her ability at crafting songs that pull at your own memories, whether true or not, is a true skill. And when she’s not singing odes to her parents, she’s recalling her own youth, reciting memories of teenage rebellion on Young And Angry Again and innocence on The Lot Behind St. Mary’s in a way we can relate to – whether we’ve lived them or not.

Once again teaming with producer Dave Cobb, The Tree carries the familiarity of Lori’s last record The Bird & The Rifle. There are some tracks, particularly in the second half, that feel like filler as they seem built for the generic country music audience, but the album remains strong with enough key points that The Tree holds up as well as some of her best work.
Four stars

Check Out: People Get Old, Young and Angry Again, The Lot Behind St. Mary’s

1. A Mother Never Rests
2. The Fixer
3. People Get Old
4. Young And Angry Again
5. The Tree
6. You Won’t Even Know I’m Gone
7. Happy People
8. You Can’t Break A Woman
9. The Lot Behind St. Mary’s
10. The Way Back Home
11. Like Patsy Would

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