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Album Review: Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’

3 min read

What comes to mind when I think of Lee Ann Womack? Country Music Queen, Grammy winner, passionate and distinctive vocalist. And? I Hope You Dance, her 2000 worldwide juggernaut that brought her a hit that really is next to impossible to top. Most artists can only dream of that kind of success. It’s what most can only hope their music will do – leave a mark on the world. But what happens next? Since then, Womack has been stifled by big money’s desire to replicate that level of success. Until now. The Way I’m Livin’ is the album Womack always wanted to make. She is free from the shackles of the big record companies and making music that means something to her. It’s full of passion, emotion and quintessential country. So let’s get into it.

Lee Ann Womack The Way I'm LivinWomack brings us a collection of tracks both old and new that are perfectly suited to her. Scouring Texas and Nashville for country music writers that shared her vision for the record, and adding her Producer-husband Frank Lidell’s magic touch have obviously worked in her favour, but it is her distinctive vocal performance that drives this record. And that is evident from the beginning. The record opens with Fly, a two and a half minute prelude that is a stark and simple ode to a fallen friend. Womack’s voice is as beautiful as ever and sets the tone for the record as emotive and current. This one is special and in my opinion, where Womack shines her brightest. Send It On Down and Nightwind are brought to us in the same vain. Lyrics of losing love and painful memories are driven straight through our hearts with vocals that are so beautiful they need very little production. They are stripped back and bare and I absolutely loved them.

Womack explores her faith in tracks All His Saints and title track The Way I’m Livin’. They are full of conflict, and the struggle between choosing right or wrong. There is a lot of raw attitude here, and it’s fun to hear Womack step that up a little in the midst of such an emotionally vulnerable record. Sleeping With The Devil takes it a step further with a story about alcohol addiction that is Country Blues to the core.

Same Kind of Different, Chances Are and Not Forgotten You are a little more hopeful. Still poignant and heartbreakingly thoughtful, Womack brings us a little ray of sunshine here and there that show the fight can be worth it. They are welcome blasts of positivity that keep the record from feeling too bogged down in sadness and kept this reviewer from sinking the whole bottle of red.

Don’t Listen To The Wind is the only sound of its kind on the record. It’s a groovy, dark little piece recalling the Kasey Chambers smash Rattlin’ Bones. Covers of Neil Young’s Out On The Weekend and Roger Miller’s Tomorrow Night In Baltimore have Womack’s stamp, making them songs of her own. Out On The Weekend is slowed down and more contemplative, while changing the gender perspective in Tomorrow Night In Baltimore gives it an interesting little twist.

The closing track, Whenever I Come Around is perhaps the most telling. A song about feeling restless and stuck in a situation you can’t control is maybe the biggest nod to the long wait for this album and culminates in a message about breaking free and being hopeful for a brighter tomorrow. And it’s obvious that for Womack tomorrow is here.

With songs like these it makes you wonder why the major labels didn’t want to give Lee Ann Womack the creative control she was craving. It’s absolutely their loss, as with The Way I’m Livin’ Womack has been set free and she’s better than ever.