Lorraine by Lori McKenna

Faith Hill’s 2005 album, Fireflies, features three cuts written by songwriter Lori McKenna, whose work Faith later championed on Oprah. Still, Faith’s McKenna-penned single “Stealing Kisses” stalled at No. 36 despite having followed her chart-topping “Mississippi Girl.” McKenna’s uncompromisingly personal songs are a textbook example of music that artists love but that the masses fail to embrace. Her latest album, Lorraine, again features songs that disregard key rules of commercial songwriting, refusing to tie up all the loose ends in a happy, snappy chorus. In fact, it’s her eye for those frayed bits of real life that make her songs fascinating, if sometimes challenging to relate to.

Quietly and artfully, if not especially dynamically, McKenna unearths striking truths about the fragility of life and relationships. While embracing such core country-music values as the simple beauty of family and domestic life, McKenna’s complex spin on them sets her apart from the hitmaking pack—good news for those who don’t like too much whitewash applied to their reality.

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