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Massachusetts by Lori McKenna

Well, here’s something novel—real-life stories told from the perspective of a true-blue New Englander. It is certainly most refreshing to hear tunes about small-town life that have that homespun feel without evoking images of tailgating, beverage-swigging and good-ol’-boy shouting.

Lori, who’s written songs for (among others) Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and even joined them on one of their tours, focuses on real, human emotions, however uncomfortable they might make us feel.

“Salt” and “Shake” (which doesn’t follow “Salt” in the album sequence), for examples, explore the darker sides that lie within all of us. But then Lori, as the happily married mother of five, can turn right around with joyous testaments like “My Love Follows You Where You Go.”

Lori’s touching narrative of her marriage, “How Romantic Is That,” is simply lovely, and we defy any parent to listen to “Grown Up Now” without a significant lump in the throat.

The record’s production is appropriately sparse and gentle throughout, without inducing boredom. Massachusetts isn’t for those who like it loud, but if you want it real, here’s your ticket.

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