The first thing that caught my ear when listening to Lee Ann Womack’s album The Way I’m Livin’ was this line in the first verse of the first track “Fly”: “I know it’s been long, too long to be gone.” It might not have been the plan to start the album that way, but it ends up being the perfect statement from an artist who we have really been missing. This is her first full album in six years and her first with Sugar Hill Records, and it’s the return that fans have wanted.
“Fly” is a simple but soothing acoustic ballad. It gives you this relaxed feeling that allows you settle in and get ready for the ride. But things don’t stay slow for long.
“All His Saints” ramps up the tempo and brings you to Church. It’s a lively hymm with all the fixings- reverent lyrics (“And all his saints will glorify the name of the Lord”), a guitar riff that you can clap along to, and soulful vocals from Lee Ann. All of the best sounds of a Southern worship service are here.
“Chances Are” is one of my favorite tracks. It’s a bluesy song about the unknowns in life- will the next choice I could make be a good one or a bad one? Lee Ann reflects when a man catches her eye in a bar:
“Chances are I took the wrong turn every time I had to turn to take
And I guess I broke my own heart every change I had a heart to break
And it seems I spent my whole life wishin’ on the same unlucky starts
And as I watch you cross the barroom I wonder what my chances are.”
Lee Ann goes to confession with the slightly rock-infused title track. She admits that she’s been a wild girl and “you know (she’d) change if (she) could, but being bad, it feels too good.” It’s been so bad that “if (she) ever get(s) to heaven it’s a doggone shame.”
“Send It On Down” keeps the spiritual themes going with Lee Ann asking for answers from up above. You could see this song as the same bad girl from “The Way I’m Livin’” now becoming a lost soul asking for guidance.
If you’ve been longing for a return of the traditional country style in today’s offerings, you will find it all over The Way I’m Livin’. Infusions of pop-beats, auto tune, and other modern country staples are foregone in favor of deep storytelling lyrics and less bombastic guitar/bass/drum/fiddle combinations. I could see myself sitting at the Bluebird Café watching every song performed exactly as it sounds here. And Lee Ann’s sweet country girl vocals are as heartwarming now as they always have been.
This is a beautiful collection of songs that feel like a reunion with an old friend where you catch up exactly where you left off.
Welcome back Lee Ann. We missed you!