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Album Review: “Call Me Crazy” by Lee Ann Womack

October 24, 2008

Call Me Crazy

3.5 Stars

 

Lee Ann Womack may be far from a dominant force in country music in sales, awards, radio play and entertainment, but when you look at keeping the tradition of powerful, smooth and meaningful country music alive she is one of its pioneers. In her triumphant return following her traditional record There’s More Where That Came From, Lee Ann Womack reveals a collection of some of her darkest and most powerful works to date. This is no secret as it has been the focus of her advertising the project, but how well does traditional performance mixed with modernist lyrical wordplay and purpose really resonate as a whole?

To explore this one needs only look at the opening track and first single from Lee Ann’s project, “Last Call” which also provides the line that brought the name of this album. The song drops Womack into the character of a woman being called by her ex-lover and finally having the nerve to reject his calling out that seems to happen traditionally when he finds himself drowning in the bottle. This song focuses on a more personal pain for potential listeners and manages to flawlessly incorporate Lee Ann’s traditionalist vocal style with modern production and writing styles.

This album resonates a dark aura the whole way through, even in songs like “Last Call” and bring out a more self-reliant ending for the main character. “Either Way” and “New Again” both tackle ones inner beauty and ability to depend on and trust in ones self for hope and strength in situations ranging from love to life. However, these song lack the emotional ring of “Last Call” and actually tend to dull the whole dark and depressing feeling Lee Ann obviously hoped to achieve by adding an almost too hopeful concept in the middle of the action.

Returning to that dark concept, this project commands a lot of attension in the right places. There are some of the most personal songs of revelation and self torture in this album from just the past few years of modernist country ballads. A shining example is “Have You Seen That Girl” which contains a very soft and very personal interpretation s Lee Ann searches for the woman she used to be, fun happy and careless, in a present that for her surrounds drinking and negativity. On the flipside the closing track, “Story Of My Life”, involves Lee Ann realizing her mistakes and forcing herself into a turning point in the right direction. Now these songs are sung under the impression that Lee Ann is addressing herself as the subject, but you don;t feel that much.

In fact many songs in this project lack much real interest or personal relevance or connection to Lee Ann at all. Great power songs like “Solitary Thinkin'” and “The Bees” fall short and are easily flipped over halfway through the chorus, sad as these are some of the shining moments in the project. The fail to offer much of anything to draw the listener in or to make them feel that Lee Ann actually cares what these songs show. That’s not the case for all the tracks, “Last Call” and her duet with George Strait “Everything But Quits” showing off her powerful relation to them, but for a decent part of the album the result comes off a boring and cliche and, in some spots, a little too depressing.

Lee Ann Womack made her attempt at earning a welcome back to country music and indeed she has done just that. She brings out a traditional sound filled with power and personal torture that is actually quite soothing to the ears for many. However, there is more than just singing and putting power into a song as Lee Ann should know by now. Many tracks on this project are so dry of actual personal connection or significance to Womack that they are easily flipped over and ignored by the less artistic mind. So while this album defiantly shows off Lee Ann in her prime, it does little justice to who she is as a popular entity in the genre and an educated and experience studio performer. Still it’s plenty good enough to stand in compatition with todays bunch and put Lee Ann back in the mix where she belongs.

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