Totally Biased Fan Review: The Tree – Lori McKenna



I bought this album a few weeks ago and I haven’t been able to find time to review it until now. I have played it quite a few times though. I heard that Gretta Ziller was listening to it after I had bought it and I thought, yes, I can hear that, see that. our Queen of Boomtown has many of the same qualities as Lori.

‘She has written songs for artists including Sara Evans, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban.[10] She wrote 10 songs that made it to the Billboard Hot Country list, including Hunter Hayes’s “I want Crazy,” Faith Hill’s “Stealing Kisses,” Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” and Little Big Town’s “Your Side of the Bed,” “Sober,” and “Girl Crush.”[12]’ Wikipedia  

Like most amazing songwriters, the songs that they write other people become more famous than them, the singers who cover them become more well known and more associated with a song and they are spending so much time writing for others that their own albums don’t get as recognised.  Lori’s voice is just awesome and she sounds way more country than hay and cowgirl hats, even. There are some amazing songs on this album. I have listened to it about 50 times in the last few weeks, wondering how I am going to do justice to a review on this fabulous album.

In one review that I read, the writer said: “She has a terrific eye for detail.” I think sometimes, that is the key to great songwriting. Think about Kris Kristofferson’s lines like “Cleanest Dirty Shirt”, from Sunday Morning Coming Down, James Taylor “I’m just a bartender, I don’t like my work, but I don’t mind the money at all.”  Bob Dylan ….well just about every Dylan song….you get the picture….it is all in the detail but it is also in the mystery….just leave the door or window a bit open so that we can decide which way to go with it….let us have our senses going,  but don’t give away every secret.

My job picking the Kazzies this year nationally and internationally has  been made all the more harder by albums such as this. There are some awesome musos on this album and with Dave Cobb guiding the ship, it was never going to sink.

Every song on the album is pretty near perfect. There are a dozen mood changes and to quote Kristofferson again: we go in “every wrong direction on that lonely road back home”. There are the usual great country elements….broken hearts, lonely nights, alcohol, love and other bruises (thanks Air Supply), the road of a woman, memories, etc.

The story of a life passionately and wholeheartedly lived is etched in the lyrics of every song here, whether it is as a bystander, someone in the crowd watching on or someone who is involved in the situation up to their eyeballs and beyond, Lori sells her songs to a knowing and growing audience who know exactly what she is talking about.

From gentle strumming to more meatier chords, it is more than three chords and the truth, it is the whole gammut of a guitar. As much as the melodies are amazing, it really is in the words where we find the greatest gems. It is hard to pick favourites, here. The first and the last tracks are definitely highlights for me, but all of the songs in between make this eleven track wonder an enormous gift. This is truly a very special album.





The Tracks:

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “A Mother Never Rests” Barry Dean, Lori McKenna
2. “The Fixer” McKenna
3. “People Get Old” McKenna
4. “Young and Angry Again” Dean, Luke Laird, McKenna
5. “The Tree” Natalie Hemby, McKenna, Aaron Raitiere
6. “You Won’t Even Know I’m Gone” McKenna
7. Happy People McKenna, Hailey Whitters
8. “You Can’t Break a Woman” Hillary Lindsey, McKenna, Liz Rose
9. “The Lot Behind St. Mary’s” McKenna
10. “The Way Back Home” Laird, McKenna
11. “Like Patsy Would” Linsey, McKenna, Rose

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