Single Review: Lori McKenna, "Salt"

p>Lori McKenna Salt“Hearts don't fly, but they can run like hell when they have to.”

Lori McKenna's greatest gift as a writer is her ability to weave brilliantly constructed metaphors together with remarkably specific and often mundane details of small town, working class life.

“Salt”, the lead single from her upcoming album Massachusetts, perfectly showcases this talent of hers.  There are so many vivid details that place the listener into the story of one particular breakup, and she slips them in so naturally that it sounds like it must be autobiography.

The best example of this comes in the second verse, where while recounting how she has nothing to show for the time given to this tortured relationship: “Six years of crying, that's all that you gave me. Not one more thing. Not even a baby. We were close one time…”

It's those vividly true details that ground her writing in reality, which in this particular song is a harsh reality.  But the line this review opens with is in there as well. On its own,  it would be little more than a beautiful turn of phrase, a set of words that lingers with you and you might quote in casual conversation to sound more insightful than you really are.

But when metaphors that beautiful are tied into the life stories of the most ordinary people, McKenna is able to achieve something so special and unique. 

She finds the poetry and beauty hidden in the stories of people whose stories aren't usually considered important enough to share in the first place.

There are a lot of good writers out there, many of whom are writing big hits for themselves and for others.  But I can't shake this feeling that Lori McKenna is the best out of all of them.  Her gift is to get us to pay attention to people, places, and truths that are so easy to overlook.   I hope more people start to do the same with her music.

Pay attention, everyone.  Please pay attention.

Written by Lori McKenna

Grade: A

Listen:  Salt

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7 Comments

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7 Responses to Single Review: Lori McKenna, "Salt"

  1. What a fantastic song! And I think this just might be one of my favorite Kevin reviews in some time. Spot on.

  2. TomNo Gravatar

    …if you didn’t want to be at the wrong end of taylor swift’s “mean”, you surely don’t want to be the reason for this one. no prisoner taken here. perfectly constructed song: vocals, tempo, instruments every piece seems to be in just the right place.

    still, kinda wouldn’t like to be in that same self-help group with her when she feels like that. salt, anyone?

  3. PennyNo Gravatar

    The whole CD is great.

  4. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Good review, and the song is a real keeper. As good as McKenna can be at coffeehouse, I like hearing her with a somewhat more muscular production behind her.

  5. I’m glad you wrote about this single here. I was hoping this song didn’t fly under the radar. It’s one of the best I’ve heard from Lori McKenna.

    I’m with Dan. I think Lori’s songs benefit from a little “oomph” in the production. I listen to the songs on Unglamorous a lot more than Lorraine for mostly that reason.

  6. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    I agree that she sounds better with a more assertive production, but what really helps her songs is for someone else to sing them. She’s okay at singing her own songs but not great – I’d give this a split rating

    Material: A
    Performance C+

  7. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Given the way country radio operates with anyone on the “fringe” like Lori, I sadly won’t expect this song to get country airplay.