When progressive traditionalist Lee Ann Womack dug into her roots, she found herself connecting harder than ever. The Way I’m Livin’, her first album in 7 years, earned two rounds of Grammy nominations – 2015 Country Album of the Year, 2016 Best Solo Country Vocal Performance and Country Song for “Chances Are” – as well as nods for the Americana Music Association Album and Artist of the Year.
The East Texan has sung for Presidents, the Concert for the Nobel Prize and Maya Angelou’s Celebration of Joy Rising. More importantly, the Grammy-winner has built a career seeking songs that slice life wide open to let the pain, the emptiness, the rage and the desire pour out.
A Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, she’s also won the prestigious Album of the Year for There’s More Where That Came From, plus a pair of Single of the Years for “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” and “I Hope You Dance.” I Hope You Dance sold over 6 million albums; the title track topped multiple charts in multiple formats around the globe.
The Wall Street Journal hailed Womack’s return, offering, “She sounds like she’s making up for lost time,” while The New York Times proclaimed, “When Ms. Womack is allowed to luxuriate in her anguish, she’s transfixing” and USA Today gave her a rare “****/****” review. Esquire, who named The Way I’m Livin’ one of its Top 10 of 2015, deemed it, “…a late-night honky-tonk full of broken bottles and shattered dreams.”
The duet partner of choice for Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, Dr. John, Ralph Stanley, Buddy Miller, George Strait, and Jim Lauderdale, Womack was a featured vocalist on Miller’s Silver Strings project, Rodney Crowell and Mary Karr’s Kin and music supervisor Randall Poster’s critically acclaimed Divided & United. Her soprano has been singled out for having a purity that rivals Dolly Parton and an ache that suggests Emmylou Harris at her most haunted.
Produced by Frank Liddell (Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies), The Way I’m Livin’ is an unvarnished distillation of Womack’s clear-eyed take on the real world. Drawing on songs from Julie Miller, Bruce Robison, Hayes Carll, Mindy Smith, Chris Knight, Grammy-nominee Adam Wright and Neil Young, it suggests that today’s true country comes from many phases of life stretched thin at the seams.
Certainly that authenticity helped the perennial critics favorite thrill the crowds at this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Merle Fest, the Emmylou Harris Tribute at Washington, DC’s Constitution Hall, CMT’s “Crossroads” with John Legend and intimate listening rooms from the Birchmere to the Troubadour.