Lori McKenna – The Balladeer

Lori McKenna - The Balladeer



4.8/5 Pros

  • Ten great songs
  • Amazing songwriting
  • Outstanding: "The Balladeer" and "Marie"

Lori McKenna is regarded to be one of the best female songwriters in the country music scene. On 24th July, she has been releasing The Balladeer, which she calls her most personal album. Feels like a good reason to have a listen into it.

Lori McKenna – About The Artist

Lori McKenna was born as Lorraine Giroux on 22nd December 1968 in Stoughton, MA, which is located South of Boston. The 27,000 people village is still her residence nowadays. She met her husband Gene McKenna already in third grade level and married him at the age of 19. Her first songwriting was lullabies for her five children. Already at her first open-mic, she was motivated to invest more time into music. While her first albums have not been too successful, her 2007 Unglamorous already made it to the Top of the US Heat. Overall, The Balladeer will be Lori McKenna’s tenth album.

However, her register as a songwriter is much more impressive. The list of songs she wrote is like a “Who is Who” of the country music scene. She twice won the Grammy Award for the Best Country Song – the first one in 2016 for Girl Crush, performed by Little Big Town and a second one one year later for Humble and Kind, performed by Tim McGraw. Her songwriting brought her seven additional Grammy nominations and other award nominations and winnings since 2017.


Lori McKenna – The Balladeer – Track by Track

The ten song album lasts 37 minutes:

1. This Town Is a Woman (feat. Karen Fairchild & Kimberly Schlapman)

She has a rough side where she buries all the scars
And the freedom of a child in the midnight dark
All the crooked roads will only lead you home
This town is a woman

Lori McKenna sets a strong statement with the first track of her album. Very present song, very strong lyrics – and of course the wide sound of this women trio, alongside Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman is a real treat.

2. The Balladeer

From the musical side, the song tends to be a bit on the monotonous side. But the story behind the title track of the album is just too strong – from a small background balladeer to a great music star. One of the verses are

From her heart and let it shine like gold
Felt like angels pouring mercy on her soul
And the weight of the world, she let it go
And she sang for the first time with her head held high and so much pride

Impressive and lovely.

3. Marie

The storytelling of McKenna is again outstanding. Marie is more melodic than the track before, the story is even more intense: Marie is Lori’s elder sister. The song majorly describes the time when their mother died. Cannot say more. I am just deeply impressed.

4. The Dream

I am really happy that after the two tracks, which deeply touched me, there is a bit of an easier topic. I had a dream last night that the two of you met. Again, McKenna describes the scenery in a lovely musical detail. Lovely melody in the background – but finally her songs are about her voice and her lyrics.

5. Uphill

When the road under your feet is dark and feels wrong
And you find yourself lost and all your confidence is gone
And the stars over your head through the clouds won’t be revealed
I’ll walk with you, even if it’s uphill

A musical love letter in extraordinary quality. When an artist is showing in that constant way that she is so great in songwriting, I more and more hate myself for not being better in English and finding more and more new words. Sorry for repeating myself

6. Good Fight

After all these quiet and somehow even melancholic tracks, the very melodic Good Fight feels even more powerful and pleasant than it actually is. The song is one of the track released before the album – and already feels like a good old friend to me. The ones with a deep relationship.

7. Stuck in High School

With Stuck in High School, the album stays melodic. An autobiographic song about high school motivation problems.

8. When You’re My Age (feat. Hillary Lindsey & Liz Rose)

When You’re My Age is the longest song of the album – the total duration is 5:11 minutes. After singing about her sister and the death of her father, she is now turning towards her five children. A lovely mother’s promise to them.

9. Two Birds

Two Birds is a lovely allegory about love. The atmosphere of the song is going back to the beginning of the album a bit, but it is a lovely listen.

10. ‘Till You’re Grown

You’ll understand when you’re older
And get out there on your own
How time really flies, it ain’t fair
You don’t see it till you’re grown

Another song which is clearly dedicated to McKenna’s children, gives a lovely finish of the album. The song is simply out that you perceive things differently when you are kid compared to your adult perspective. Lovely.


Lori McKenna – The Balladeer – Spotify

Here is the Spotify widget for The Balladeer:


Lori McKenna – The Balladeer – My View

No doubt about that The Balladeer is amazing musical quality. While reviewing the first songs I even felt that I will assign a full score review rating after I did that already to Taylor Swift’s folklore the same weekend. The second half of McKenna’s album is just a little bit weaker than the outstanding beginning. Thus, the album absolutely deserves an outstanding rating – but I still leave a little bit of potential for the next time. You have to listen to The Balladeer. – The Best in Media

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