Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Six years later, Lee Ann Womack is finally back. Her traditional country sounds were not quite working with Nashville, which was veering increasingly pop. Now, the Texas native returns with a new label, but the same lovely voice. Originally intended for her old label, MCA Nashville, Womack was given the marching orders to make the type of disc she wanted to listen to.
That resulted in songs from the likes of Neil Young, several from Bruce Robison, Adam Wright and Natalie Hemby, several of whom Womack previously recorded their work.
Womack who, of course, has enjoyed big hits (although she has had only 1 song reach the Billboard top 20 since 2004), isn't going for commercial jugular with "The Way I'm Livin'." Apparently, she heeded the advice from where she once lived professionally and is doing what she wants.
That comes through with a quiet acoustic guitar and voice opening of "Fly" where her beautiful, elastic voice quickly takes over. On Hayes Carll's "Chances Are," Womack's vocals shine on a hard core country track - one of several - filled with heartache ("chances are I took the wrong turn/every time I had a turn to take/And I guess I broke my own heart/every chance I had a heart to break") and a whole lot of weepy sounds from steel guitar ace Paul Franklin.
Womack picks songs with chunks of religious imagery. The leadoff "Fly" starts with the line "Fly, wish I could fly with you high, just like the Angels do." And Mindy Smith's "All His Saints" is even stronger in that vein ("I will one day be above with his servant angels in Zion") and the slow paced Chris Knight/David Leone song "Send It On Down" where she asks Jesus to save her.
Womack turns in a heartfelt reading of Julie Miller's "Don't Listen to the Wind" about a past relationship haunting her. Buddy Miller's backing vocals, Hank Singer's violin and fiddle all combine to give the upbeat song a more mournful feel.
Husband and her sometime producer Frank Liddell (he's produced all of Miranda Lambert's major label CDs) knows his artist and helps Womack reach her potential.
Womack has long demonstrated a proclivity for the traditional side of country. While she also strays towards edgier sounds here, Womack deserves big kudos for having the artistic freedom to do as she pleases. And her ears are pretty darn good, too.