February 5, 2005
I’ve held off on writing a review of Lee Ann Womack’s There’s More Where That Came From. I’ve been living with the album for almost two months; it finally gets its commercial release this Tuesday. It’s not difficult to write about mediocre albums, or even very good albums; the strengths and weaknesses are readily apparent, and they provide a logical structure for how the discussion should go – this is what works, this is what doesn’t.
But what do you say when something is so close to perfect? Where the faults aren’t apparent at all? Music that reaches that lofty standard defies description; it just feels right. It’s a feeling of discovery and revelation of something you’ve known all along. Lee Ann’s new album makes me feel that feeling, over and over again. Each track speaks a different truth. To discuss them individually would be an endless exercise of searching for new adjectives that say the same thing; I’ll limit myself to the two tracks that soar above and beyond to be better than the best.
First, “The Last Time.” I heard this song over the summer, when MCA was testing if this should be the first single, or if they should go with “I’m Gonna Love You Tonight.” At the time, even I picked the latter, which would later be re-titled “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” by label request. Hearing “The Last Time” again, I’ve been deeply moved by the underlying message. You never know when you will be seeing a person who has shaped your life and identity for the last time. In movies, there are dramatic goodbyes, the music swells, and closure is achieved. In real life, you may just be leaving an apartment at the break of dawn, with an awkward hug and kiss before starting the long drive home. Or maybe you’re drinking a watery $7 beer at Epcot Center, watching a light show that you’d find boring alone, but their enthusiasm makes you share their wonder. Or maybe you’re in a lonely airport in the Midwest, your flight delayed and your heart filled with worry that one weekend was not enough time to give them. What words would you go back and say if you knew that was the last time you’d ever see them? Will you always live with regret that you couldn’t find those words when they were needed?
And then there’s “Stubborn (Psalm 151)”. I can’t say more than the simple truth: with every listen, it feels like a violation of my spiritual modesty; somebody has been eavesdropping on my soul.
I have no idea if this album will achieve great critical or commercial success. That it exists at all gives me renewed hope that music can still teach me new lessons about myself and the life I am trying to live.