In 2004, I attended Signature Sounds’ 10th anniversary show at the Calvin, and in addition to enjoying music from performers I knew about – Josh Ritter, Mark Erelli, Rani Arbo – I found about a few I’d somehow missed.
One was Lori McKenna, who writes devastatingly straightforward songs about life as most people know it. I checked out her then-current album, “Bittertown,” and found it packed with insight, a quality missing from most pop music these days.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one paying attention to Lori McKenna’s brilliance. In the spring of 2005, Faith Hill stopped work on her album when she heard “Bittertown.” Eventually, three McKenna songs, including the title cut, made it onto “Fireflies,” and Warner Brothers picked up “Bittertown” for distribution.
WB also began artist development work with Lori. What’s that, you say? Didn’t that disappear in the Seventies? Not in country music, it seems. On August 14, Lori McKenna will release “Unglamorous,” her proper major label debut. I’ve heard snippets, and I’ll go out on a limb to say success hasn’t spoiled her one bit.
Her label put together a QuickTime biovideo, which is on the William Morris Agency site, to help folks get a sense of this wonderfully talented artist.
A longer version is also on YouTube.
She’s on tour now with Hill and husband Tim McGraw, with two stops next week in Boston. But I’d recommend you skip the EnormoDome shows and wait for her to tour in support of the new album. She’s better at places like the Calvin and Somerville Theatre; I’ve a feeling success will force her from intimate rooms like Hooker-Dunham and Iron Horse.
**UPDATE** Wait, I’m wrong about that. Iron Horse has Lori and her band scheduled for July 20, with Mark Erelli opening. Of course, AFTER “Unglamorous” comes out, that will change.
I predict “Unglamorous” will be THE country record of 2007, a singer-songwriter masterpiece.
Watch the video and see for yourself.