Lee Ann Womack “The Way I’m Livin’” Album Review

lee ann womack

Prime Cuts: Same Kind of Different, Out on the Weekend, Chances Are

Lee Ann Womack has abandon the high road of glitzy headlines, the endless chase to be a radio darling, and the elusive platinum and gold plaques.  Rather, she has gone into the sleazy back alleys of the heat where she allows her anguish soul to roam free expressing its plaintive frustrations often kept in abeyance in a tailor-made album for the charts.  Here on "The Way I'm Livin'" we meet a woman so harangued by her past that fear reigned in her every decision now.  Then we meet another who is at the fork of the road where she is faced with the temptation of being seduced by the devil sitting beside the road.  And then we have yet another lady who have been the victim of sins of the past that she is pleading for the intervention of Jesus before going crazy.  Though this is not a Christian album per se, Womack deals with the angst of the souls in ways more transparent than many records in the Christian music genre. 

When Emmylou Harris felt that her singles released in the early 1990s were no longer gaining traction with country radio, she made a decision to dis the charts.  As a result, she recorded her career re-defining album "Wreckling Ball," which established her as the Queen of Americana music.  Womack is following her heroine via a similar path.  "The Way I'm Livin'," makes little concession towards radio, it is a rootsy endeavour that delves into subjects far too overwhelming for current country radio to gobble.  Many of the songs harkened back to the old Tammy Wynette and Billy Sherrill days most blatantly displayed in "Chances Are."  A tortured Wynette-influenced ballad about a woman crippled by her past.  Now, will she take the chance to venture behind her emotional barrier?  Like the unreeling of a soap drama, this traditional country ballad will keep us on the edge of our seats.

Spirituality takes the spotlight with the Mindy Smith-penned "All His Saints."  Sounding like it was recorded in a dainty little old country church quipped with "hallelujahs" and invoking of the Spirit, "All His Saints" will get us our marching shoes out as we stomp in praise for Jesus.  The title cut and vanguard single "The Way I'm Livin'" is a quirky Americana piece that gives earthy expressions to the word "temptation."  Chronicling the thought process of a woman tempted by enticing ways of the dark one, pay close attention to the final verse as Womack exhorts us to the joys of turning to the light.  While "Send It on Down" (which calls to mind Womack's earlier hit songs such as "The Fool" and "Never Say Never") is the prayer of a plaintive woman scarred by the spears of decisions made on her behalf and when she cries, "Jesus keep me from going crazy," our heart just shatters into a zillion pieces.

Yet, not all the songs deal with the inner conflict of the soul or the turmoil between the Lord and the devil, Womack returns to country music's most recurring theme of heartbreak in her Neil Young cover "Out on the Weekend."  The angst of loneliness and the aimlessness of a woman devoid of love is captured with vivid imagination on "Out on the Weekend."  And the album's sole "happier" piece is the ultra-catchy "Same Kind of Different."  A gorgeous love songs that illustrates the adage that opposites do attract.  If you want a record that renders open the soul transcending genres, boundaries, time, and space; an album that is not afraid to call upon the name of Jesus in one instance and trashes the devil on the other, then "The Way I'm Livin'" is it.  But for those who want their music superficially happy, stay clear.  


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