Lee Ann Womack, The Way I’m Livin’

Charles Aaron

By Charles Aaron

on 09.23.14 in Reviews

The Way I'm Livin'

Lee Ann Womack
A serious-songwriter LP about mortality and salvation and eternity

Lee Ann Womack’s eighth album wrings all the breezy, matter-of-fact exhilaration possible out of a serious-songwriter LP about mortality and salvation and eternity. Not to mention sleeping with the devil (in her mind, at least, on “Sleepin’ with the Devil”) and getting a buzz from a quart while sitting in the bleachers at a football field (on Sunday morning!), on “Send it on Down.” Since it’s been two years since she left longtime label MCA and six years since her last release, Call Me Crazy, one might assume that Womack’s been through some shit — romantic, psychic, etc. Or maybe she just wanted to exercise her freedom as a secure veteran now-indie artist (working with producer/husband Frank Liddell) to record material that plunged her blithely fierce voice into life’s most wrenching dilemmas. “I know where my soul’s been,” she confesses on the title track as strings swoop woozily, then muses, “Are there any answers up in the hereafter?” amid the narrative ache of Chris Knight’s “Send It on Down.” She gives Hayes Carll’s “Chances Are” a mesmerizing spin: Tear. Beer. Scars. And on Buddy Miller’s “Don’t Listen to the Wind,” she wails her romantic ambivalence like a real-life tortured grown-up. You know an album ain’t futzing around when the Neil Young cover feels lightweight.