Monday, April 04, 2005

You think Lee Ann Womack wishes she'd heard "When I Think About Cheatin'" before Gretchen Wilson did? It's an archetypal Womack song, one which would've fit fine on her brand-new-you're-retro There's More Where That Came From. This album's quite the impressive balancing act, with songs which sound mostly contemporary (mainly in their writing) produced to sound like a great unsung 1970 country classic. There are gaps - "One's A Couple" is given away by its drums, especially - but for each of those, there are two like lead single "I May Hate Myself In The Morning," which gets it so, so right. This one aches just like it should, with Womack's tender, creamy vocals perfectly complementing a song that Tammy Wynette would've given her eyeteeth for. All of the elements are here: the steel guitar crying, the strings swelling, the male backing vocals (an unfortunately lost fine tradition of country in the '60s, having men back the women), and that little quaver in Womack's voice which often reminds me of Bobby Goldsboro on "Sunny" - don't laugh, he nailed that shit. Womack even assists on songwriting duties on the brilliantly titled "Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago," which dips into the lyrical cliché well a bit more than it should, but gets you nonetheless - especially when its string-laden bridge swells up like a catch in your throat. Ask about anyone who cares about country music, and they'll tell you that this is the album they've been waiting for Womack to make for her whole career, and hallelujah! She's done it, and she's done it right. Her voice deserves a collection of songs this good ("Painless" will get covered by the Alanis of 2010, and "Stubborn" is already a classic in Nashville circles), and like few major-label country singers, Womack knows what to do with 'em.

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