Lori McKenna

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Postby Browncoat » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:26 pm

The new website is up and running, for all those who want to check it out. It's a very nicely done website.

As for the record, I like it a lot more than I thought I would. Sure, it might sound like country pop, but country pop is a lot better than straight ahead radio country. And it's still distinct enough to not be able to fit right into country pop. I think most of the songs are strong. The only song I truly hate on this record is "Drinkin' Problem." I was discussing it with someone and I think she described it best, with, " 'Drinkin Problem' sounds, to me, like someone said,'You know, 'If You Ask' is a good song about alcoholism and everything, and country fans love that kind of shit, but it's not quite obvious enough... could you make it a little more blatant? Hey I know! How bout if we even call the song 'Drinkin' Problem'?!' What a great idea! Then everyone will get it!!'"

I really heart "I Know You," "Your Next Lover," "Witness to Your Life," and "Written Permission" (a song that was originally recorded for Pieces of Me). And "I'm Not Crazy" is far too catchy. As far as "Falter" goes, well... I'm not sure about the piano, but I do think the vocals are a lot stronger than on The Kitchen Tapes.

I'm interested in knowing which ones Lori co-wrote. My money's on "Drinkin' Problem," "How to Survive," and "Leaving This Life."
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Postby MWM » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:30 pm

Browncoat wrote:I'm interested in knowing which ones Lori co-wrote. My money's on "Drinkin' Problem," "How to Survive," and "Leaving This Life."


I think I read somewhere (probably this thread) that "Leaving This Life" was co-written. I'm really hoping so hard that "Unglamorous" was as well, just because I would love it if Lori was not the mind behind the monstrosity of a line, "Peanut butter on everything." I'm also putting my bet on "I'm Not Crazy."
The meteorite is the source of the light
And the meteor's just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid
Of the fire that propelled it to thee
And the meteorite's just what causes the light
And the meteor's how it's perceived
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void
That lies quiet in offering to thee
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Postby Nicoleee » Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:59 pm

happy cd-release day to all you lori fans!

i went on a harbor cruise tonight with lori and band... playing that is.
the last few times i have seen her she has played mostly songs from unglamorous with fireflies and stealing kisses as the only other songs from previous records (just faith hits i guess).

but damn, i just loveeeherrr. i love the twang (oh yeah) and ya know what,
i don't even mind the peanut butter line at this point.

beautiful night for a lori-cruise.

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Postby PCStuff » Mon Aug 20, 2007 2:46 am

I really love her new CD. Well I love all her CD's.
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Postby marybeth » Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:01 pm

Ashamed to admit I haven't picked this up yet. Got to put on my to-do list!
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Postby keith from ny » Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:07 pm

My Unglamorous CD arrived today. I love the songs and I really don't mind the Nashville arrangements at all, but all these tracks are definitely mastered specifically for radio -- severely compressed with no dynamic range. Boo!! :(
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Postby PCStuff » Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:57 am

keith from ny wrote:My Unglamorous CD arrived today. I love the songs and I really don't mind the Nashville arrangements at all, but all these tracks are definitely mastered specifically for radio -- severely compressed with no dynamic range. Boo!! :(


Keith, I don't have most of the distinctions that you do, since I am more just a fan (vs. artist)....and when I listen to this CD several times, I realize I just don't understand what you mean. Can you explain a bit about this without getting too technical....and maybe give a comparison CD that I can see the contrast? Thanks!
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Postby keith from ny » Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:30 am

PCStuff wrote:
keith from ny wrote:My Unglamorous CD arrived today. I love the songs and I really don't mind the Nashville arrangements at all, but all these tracks are definitely mastered specifically for radio -- severely compressed with no dynamic range. Boo!! :(


Keith, I don't have most of the distinctions that you do, since I am more just a fan (vs. artist)....and when I listen to this CD several times, I realize I just don't understand what you mean. Can you explain a bit about this without getting too technical....and maybe give a comparison CD that I can see the contrast? Thanks!

I'm not an artist either, I just like good sound, especially when I pay for a CD. It just means the "quiet" parts of the songs have been cranked up in volume so everything sounds loud on the radio. Listen to a few tracks of the CD (not mp3s) using a good pair of headphones and then listen to Bittertown, it should be pretty apparent.
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Postby PCStuff » Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:59 pm

keith from ny wrote:
PCStuff wrote:
keith from ny wrote:My Unglamorous CD arrived today. I love the songs and I really don't mind the Nashville arrangements at all, but all these tracks are definitely mastered specifically for radio -- severely compressed with no dynamic range. Boo!! :(


Keith, I don't have most of the distinctions that you do, since I am more just a fan (vs. artist)....and when I listen to this CD several times, I realize I just don't understand what you mean. Can you explain a bit about this without getting too technical....and maybe give a comparison CD that I can see the contrast? Thanks!

I'm not an artist either, I just like good sound, especially when I pay for a CD. It just means the "quiet" parts of the songs have been cranked up in volume so everything sounds loud on the radio. Listen to a few tracks of the CD (not mp3s) using a good pair of headphones and then listen to Bittertown, it should be pretty apparent.


Oh, for some reason I thought you were an artist, sorry. Yeah, I understand what you are saying, but I would call that a boosted & normalized volume rather than a "compression" but I can see that lack of "dynamic range" is apparently a rampant issue now. Thanks!
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Postby notalone » Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:55 pm

Nice article on Lori in this months No Depression.
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Postby marybeth » Thu Aug 23, 2007 1:58 am

PCStuff wrote: Yeah, I understand what you are saying, but I would call that a boosted & normalized volume rather than a "compression" but I can see that lack of "dynamic range" is apparently a rampant issue now. Thanks!


Hey PC, thanks for that link, that is very interesting to me as an artist! (yep I'm an artist!) It's becoming clear to me you have to inform yourself about the philosophy of who is mastering/mixing your stuff pretty well, or else you can lose control over the end-result.
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Americana: "a nebulous category of misfits and acquired tastes, many of whom seem to have worn cowboy hats at one time or another" LA Times article
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Postby marybeth » Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:25 am

Thought you all might enjoy this....I got this updated bio from lastfm, it has some info on the co-writers of the songs on Unglamorous.

Lori McKenna is a mother of five from Stoughton, Mass. (pop. 27,000), about 20 miles outside Boston. There, she lives quietly—well, as quietly as a house with five children can get—with her husband of 18 years, Gene, a plumber for the local gas company. For years she drove her kids to school in a 1999 Ford Windstar minivan with 150,000 miles on it. It is fitting Lori entitled her Warner Bros. debut album Unglamorous.

Lori McKenna is also an acclaimed singer-songwriter who was thrust into the limelight last year when superstar Faith Hill included three of McKenna’s songs on her Number One album Fireflies, including Hill’s poignant single “Stealing Kisses.” Hill (herself a wife and mother of three) heard in McKenna’s work what a steadily growing audience has been hearing since her 1998 debut, Paper Wings & Halo: an intimate understanding and honest expression of the realities of domestic life.

Now many more will have the opportunity to discover what Hill did early on as McKenna prepares to release her new album summer 2007. The album’s 11 songs— produced by Tim McGraw and award winning producer Byron Gallimore — prove once again that this singer-songwriter stay-at-home mom is the real deal; an authentic artist whose “fearless musical snapshots lay bare the realities of small-town life while clinging to the hope of better days,” as one Nashville reviewer put it.

“I don’t remember ever being impacted by a songwriter the way I was with her," Hill says. "Her writing is masterful, with a pureness that is completely unaffected. The songs are such a great combination of depth and realness … there's just this indescribable collision of innocence and honesty in her writing.”

“I’m just a housewife from Stoughton who likes to write songs,” McKenna says. “That this absolutely gorgeous woman, who has a completely different life from mine, got it the first time she heard it is amazing to me. That we are both connected to the songs is a gift — that I was able to be truthful and honest and write something down that someone like her could identify with.”

The songs on McKenna’s album traverse familiar domestic territory. “Unglamorous” — co-written with Nashville songwriter Liz Rose (Tim McGraw, Lee Ann Womack) — lovingly depicts the family home’s faded curtains, threadbare rugs, and crowded dinners at the kitchen table as “No frills, no fuss / Perfectly us, unglamorous.” McKenna wrote “I Know You” about her husband Gene, whom she married at 19. “We’ve been together so long, I’ve known him since third grade.”

Then there’s the bittersweet, positively tear-jerking “Leaving This Life,” co-written with Mark D. Sanders (Lee Ann Womack, George Strait), about McKenna’s mother, who died when McKenna was 6. “I used to have this recurring dream for years that I was in the driveway and my mother would pull up in her station wagon and start unloading groceries,” she recalls. “In the dream, I’d just be sitting on my bike, speechless, because she was home. She would smile at me and say ‘Hi’ and walk in the house, and I couldn’t even speak. She was 40 when she died and I don’t remember her at all. The song is about wishing you knew those simple little things about that person, what their voice sounds like, how they walk, what they look like driving a car.”

McKenna recorded the album over a series of two- and three-day sessions in Nashville last April with McGraw and Gallimore, who brought in their team of seasoned studio musicians to interpret the tracks and bring a mesmerizing blend of rock, folk, and country textures to the songs. “Byron and Tim were so amazing about keeping my songs and keeping them about my story, but bringing in all these incredible players, who just blew me away,” McKenna says. “It was easily the best musical experience I’ve ever had in the studio to hear my songs come out of these great players.” Lori had the help of some top-notch background vocalists as well: Tim McGraw himself sings back-up on “Drinkin’ Problem,” as does Faith Hill on “Falter.”

McKenna’s new album is actually her fifth, after the independently released Paper Wings & Halo (1998), Pieces of Me (2001), The Kitchen Tapes (2003), and Bittertown (2004). Bittertown features the original renditions of two songs Hill covered on Fireflies (“If You Ask” and “Stealing Kisses”), along with “Bible Song,” which country star Sara Evans recorded for her album Real Fine Place. Bittertown paints a detailed picture of the oft-hidden complexities of day-to-day life in a small town. “One reviewer said it was about the complications of an uncomplicated life, which I thought was really perfect,” McKenna says.

She’s quick to point out that her songs’ tangibly intimate scenarios are not necessarily a journal of her own home life. Rather, they’re the collision point of autobiography, keen observation, and a vivid imagination. “That’s how my brain works,” she says. “I can take a little piece of something that I heard somewhere and turn it into a song written in the first person.”

McKenna’s unique talent for getting such honest emotion on paper may be the result of her unique career path. “I started writing songs when I was about 13, but I never imagined I would actually leave my house with them,” she recalls. “They were always written for me.” McKenna learned to compose without self-consciousness, to leave in all the painful details that most writers would edit out before facing an audience. Why not? No one would hear the songs anyway.

And that’s how things remained—until McKenna reached age 27, at which point she had already married and had three children. “My kids put everything in line for me,” she says. “They, and my husband, gave me the courage to play in front of people. If the audience hated my songs, it wasn’t gonna make or break me, because I had so much here at home. If it didn’t work, I could at least share that lesson with my kids: ‘I can’t be regretful, because at least I tried to pursue this.’”

McKenna began performing at open-mic nights in Boston, and the enthusiastic response led to her own shows. Finding it perfectly natural to balance her full home life with a burgeoning musical career, she took care of the kids all day, played shows in the evening, and wrote songs at the kitchen table after the children’s bedtime. She drove from show to show in the same minivan in which she ferried around her kids, who now range in age in from 17 to 2.

Certainly, the young mom didn’t envision the string of events that led to her status as an in-demand songwriter among country’s top ranks. McKenna’s friend, rising alt-country singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier, passed her songs along to the legendary songwriter Harlan Howard’s publishing company, who played them for Faith Hill. The superstar had just finished recording her new album — but was so taken that she promptly went back into the studio to add three McKenna tunes, including what became the title track, “Fireflies.”

McKenna, who says she is overjoyed with Hill’s renditions, appeared with Hill on The Oprah Winfrey Show last year, chatting with the host (who teared up as McKenna told her story) and performing “Fireflies” with Hill. “I was afraid I’d get up there and cry,” McKenna says of the experience. “I can’t talk and cry at the same time, but then everyone else started to cry and I was like, ‘Turn on the cry button!’”

Now it’s time for the original voice of Hill’s songs to be heard. “My priority is, I want to write great songs, timeless songs, songs that affect people,” McKenna says. “But if I have the blessing to be able to share the way I interpret my songs with people, then I want to do that, too.”
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Postby PCStuff » Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:50 am

Nice article. It is so easy to fall in love with Lori...she has such an ordinary life that she freely shares, and poignantly sings. Her lyrics and emotions seem to cascade all over me. I often find myself stopping what I was doing to just devote 100% of my attention to listening.
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Postby marybeth » Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:17 am

I really like the new album. I especially like: I Know You, Your Next Lover, Written Permission, Leaving This Life, Survive. I agree the "peanutbutter" line and others like it show the marks of co-writers on "Unglamorous". I think Lori writes better than that. I really like the new arrangement of Falter. All in all, I'm happy with it, her great songwriting skills still come through!
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Americana: "a nebulous category of misfits and acquired tastes, many of whom seem to have worn cowboy hats at one time or another" LA Times article
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Postby Arlene » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:01 pm

FYI. Lori McKenna will be on World Cafe on September 11th. A day or two after it airs, the interview/performance segment will be archived at http://www.worldcafe.org
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