Lori McKenna - The Bird & the Rifle
It’s funny how one massive hit can make a career. Lori McKenna had been paying her bills by writing songs for the good, the bad, and the ugly of Nashville, acts including Mandy Moore, Keith Urban, Angaleena Presley, Reba McEntire, Hunter Hayes, Ashley Monroe, and most famously Little Big Town. As well as the songwriting she has eight albums in sixteen years in the discography, with strong critical reception not being matched by sales. Then in 2014 everyone was suddenly talking about McKenna, as one third of the trio that wrote ‘Girl Crush’ the industry behemoth that caused controversy, set records, and started a million discussions. An overnight success then, and she didn’t even record the track.
All that fuss makes you wonder whether her confidence was high as she entered the process of her ninth album, The Bird & the Rifle, as it’s packed with expertly executed lyrics, melodies, and stories. It's also another in the faultless production line of Dave Cobb, producer de rigueur of country. The beautifully pensive ‘Wreck You’ sets the tone for the personal, relationship driven core of the ten tracks, while ‘Halfway Home’ riffs on bad starts to love, and ‘Old Men Young Women’ burns those who trade wives like they trade their trucks. The two best tracks though are the small town America loving ‘Giving Up On Your Hometown’ and the 80s reminiscing of ‘We Were Cool’. Packed through with characters, themes, and advice, The Bird & the Rifle is an example of one of America’s foremost songwriting talents at the height of her confidence.