Lori McKenna – “The Bird and the Rifle” Album Review

For any of you not familiar with Lori McKenna’s own recordings ( this being her 10th studio album) you will no doubt know some of her writes/co writes which have been recorded by major country artists and which have gone on to be massive hits………these include ” Girl Crush” ( Little Big Town, this song has won so many awards I’ve lost count!)

and most recently ” Humble and Kind” (Tim McGraw, the first solo write to reach No. 1 on the billboard charts for over 4 years)

 Oh, and she also has a co-write with Brandy Clark on Brandy’s new album.

Produced by the very in demand Dave Cobb ( who apparently fell in love with her raw, honest vocals and insightful lyrics when he was sent demos of the tracks) this album it was recorded live at his Nashville studio in just 10 days ( Lori still lives just outside Boston ) and features some of the town’s top session musicians. I love the laid back, understated sound that Cobb has gone for, perfect for these songs. There are four solo and six co-writes on this CD, and as on her past albums the inspiration for her writing come from the mundane, everyday things in life such as a conversation about a tattoo in the sit com Modern Family that she turned into a story about a relationship going awry for the title track (the woman, who is the bird in the song, eventually leaving the man, who is the rifle, incidentally I love the beautiful strings at the end of this one).  Then there’s the effect that her travelling has on her loved ones which gave rise to ” Wreck You” (a song she has had in her head for the past eight years)

and it was leaving instructions and advice on notes for her five children when she was going away that sowed the seed for ” Humble and Kind”, her own version of the song being on this collection…. Here’s a live version of her performing it at the Opry for you to compare with Tim Mcgraw’s studio  recording:

All the tracks are pretty laid back, slow/mid tempo numbers, really inviting you to take heed of the fantastic lyrics throughout. Yes, this is an album that demands your 100% attention! Among my favourites are  “Old Men, Young Women” which while on the surface can be seen as a light-hearted social commentary on the matter is actually pretty sad ……” neither one can change what’s missing” ……and “Halfway Home” which is just a fantastic song about not underselling yourself in the desperate search for love, with lines like “Looking for a saviour, he ain’t gonna save ya, that’s just what you think his eyes say. Deep down you know that your worth more than this or the cost of that dinner last night”.
Not known for her happy songs, the most lighthearted track is probably ” We Were Cool” , a retrospective about dating and fooling around back in the day while dreaming of escaping the humdrum of daily life….”I was sitting on his right, on his left was a fresh tattoo and me, we were cool”……but even this is tinged with sadness as the dreams were thwarted as teenage dreams so often are.
I was fortunate enough to hear Lori perform some of her compositions earlier this year at the CMA Songwriter’s event, the evening before the C2C Festival, and really hope the release of this album will bring her back to these shores for a headline tour. In the meantime, i will just play and re-play this wonderful collection of songs!


Wreck You (Lori McKenna/Felix McTeigue)
The Bird & The Rifle (Lori McKenna/Caitlyn Smith/Troy Verges)
Giving Up On Your Hometown (Lori McKenna)
Halfway Home (Lori McKenna/Barry Dean)
Humble & Kind (Lori McKenna)
We Were Cool (Lori McKenna)
Old Men Young Women (Lori McKenna/Luke Laird/Barry Dean)
All These Things (Lori McKenna/Liz Rose)
Always Want You (Lori McKenna/Liz Rose/Hillary Lindsey)
If Whiskey Were A Woman (Lori McKenna)

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