LEE ANN WOMACK – The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone (ATO)

LonelyOver the years, I’ve reviewed several albums on which Womack’s appeared, but somehow never managed to actually review one of her own. And she’s now made nine. So, let’s put that to rights with the East Texan’s new label debut, The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone, that, produced by Frank Liddell, finds her powerful bluesy vocals in fine fettle for a set of self-penned material and covers.

It’s an original that steams up the windows for the moody, gospel influenced opening track, ‘All The Trouble’, Womack initially in virtually a capella mode, giving way, in turn, to the spare pedal steel country balladry of the title number, a meditation on bygone times, things and feelings lost. The first of the covers brings a smoky, swampy groove to Patsy Cline hit ‘He Called Me Baby’, another being a simple bare bone acoustic strum through ‘Long Black Veil’, the murder, wrong man and adultery tale first recorded back in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell. From the same year, comes album closer, ‘Take The Devil Out Of Me’, a rollicking testifying stomp written and recorded by George Jones channeled here through the spark plugs of Janis Joplin’s ‘Mercedez Benz’, while the final cover is a gently wearied take on Andrew Combs’ ‘Rainy Day Song’.

The rest is all her own, either written solo or in collaboration, as with the Southern bluesy slow burn twist in the tale storysong ‘Wicked’, co-penned with Alan Jackson’s nephew, Adam Wright, and joining forces with guitarist Waylon Payne for ‘Sunday’, another Southern-gospel coloured blues.

‘Hollywood’ shifts from the album’s general blues tone for a dreamy, softly sung number that calls to mind Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb’s work together as, while ‘End of the End of the World’ is a familiar honky tonk mid-tempo swayer and ‘Bottom of the Barrel’ a lope along from the old school.

Being honest, I prefer her in the softer moments, such as the delicate, piano-backed sad balladary of ‘Mama Lost Her Smile’ with its vague hints of Dolly or, another stripped back acoustic number, here with upright bass, the Cline-like ‘Someone Else’s Heartache’, but, it’s all the sort of melancholy you want to share cosied up with a bottle of bourbon.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.leeannwomack.com