Lori McKenna is now about the same age as her mother Lorraine was when she died. Though McKenna was only seven at the time, those fleeting memories and the introspection that they inevitably bring figure heavily in her fine new album named for the mother she lost long ago. A New England songwriter who only began performing in local folk clubs when she was 27 (married with three kids and living the suburban life where the word "play date" had nothing to do with a club gig), her songs still found their way to Nashville's elite: Alison Krauss, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and, in particular, Faith Hill and hubby Tim McGraw (who co-produced McKenna's major label '07 album Unglamourous).
But the big label allure, while bringing her to an even wider audience, wasn't without a downside. Independent once again, McKenna reflects that the brighter spotlight was "not exactly the safest way to guard your creative instincts" though she says the experience gave her a "much deeper confidence in myself as an artist." With Lorraine, due January 25 via Signature Sounds, she's back in the New England acoustic circuit, still writing brilliant songs of soul-searching and loss, relationships and the people in her life, neighborhoods and small town values. Songs such as "Buy This Town", a haunting folk hymn of the modern working class ethic, and quietly epic album opener "The Luxury of Knowing" are among McKenna's best songs, disarming, sweeping melodies that elevate a naturally lovely voice and stark acoustic guitar into a sublime realm of drama and intimacy.
Lori McKenna - "The Luxury of Knowing" (from the album Lorraine)
Lori McKenna - "Buy This Town" (from the album Lorraine)