By Jack Sharkey, February 5, 2018
Front to Back Album Review: Lee Ann Womack - The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone
- Released: October 27, 2017
- Label: ATO
- Producer: Frank Liddell
Five out of Five Play Buttons
I wouldn’t call myself a “country music fan” as I try not to get caught up in genre-ism. I like good songs played by talented musicians. That being said, the new corporate-fueled genre of rap-country (or country-rap depending on who’s name comes first on the track) is tough for me to take seriously. I won’t call it a scourge just yet but that shouldn’t stop you if you feel so inclined.
That’s why The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone is such a joy to listen to. It is simply a great album and it would be a shame to limit it solely to whatever constitutes country music today. Sure there are the occasional lyrical lapses into country cliché, but for someone reason those clichés just seem totally appropriate given the setting. Womack and her songwriting partners offer up an unapologetic tip of the hat to the heyday of 90s country while not ignoring the outlaw roots of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash – Womack holds a cigarette on the album cover, and in this day and age, what could be more outlaw than that? This is not a Nashville album, it’s a Cherokee County Texas album and it drips with all of the heat and humidity of an East Texas summer morning when, well, things are just not going as good as you’d hoped.
If you’re not inclined to listen to country music, then tell your friends this is an alt-country or even better an Americana album and revel in all of its glory. Womack explores the low-points of the human journey in a way that’s relatable to any of us with some baggage and scar tissue. And at some point we all have baggage and scar tissue regardless of our genre of choice.
The production is glorious – real musicians playing real instruments in the same room at the same time, all serving the song and not their own agendas. The first four tracks are about as good as you will hear on any album, but the set really picks up in its languid intensity as you get into the middle of it. There are some great stand-alone songs here, but do yourself a favor and listen to the album as a complete work. There is a story here and you’ll only get the gist of it just sitting for fifty-three minutes and immersing yourself in it. I’m overly picky and I didn’t find a weak track in the bunch – The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone is simply a great album.
Listened via TIDAL through ROON streaming on LS50W.