Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Happily Married Singer Attracted to Dark Themes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Happily Married Singer Attracted to Dark Themes

Article excerpt

On her new album, Lee Ann Womack sings about heartbreak, hard times and loneliness. But the themes that permeate "The Way I'm Livin' " are not autobiographical. In reality, the country star has been happily married for 15 years, and her husband co-produced her latest disc.

"I don't really have an answer as to why I'm drawn to songs with darker themes," Womack said by phone ahead of her performance tonight in Englewood. "Since I was a young child I've always gravitated toward songs with an empathy that the listener can feel. From what people have said to me over the years, I think people can hear that empathy in my voice."

There is a beautiful sadness to Womack's vocals on "The Way I'm Livin.' " Standout tracks include "Chances Are," in which the protagonist laments "wishing on the same unlucky star," while a sense of fatalism reverberates throughout "When I Come Around."

More optimistic songs like "All His Saints" reflect the role of religion in Womack's life. "Spirituality is a big part of my life," Womack said from her Nashville home. She also said that singing about difficult patches in people's lives has an upside. "Music can be healing," Womack said. "People can transcend the rough spots."

"The Way I'm Livin,' " released in September, is Womack's seventh album and first since 2008's "Call Me Crazy." Womack did not write any of the songs on her latest album; as with several previous releases, she interpreted other songwriters' works. It features songs by Neil Young ("Out on the Weekend") and country singer- songwriters Bruce Robison ("Nightwind," "Not Forgotten You") and Julie Miller ("Don't Listen to the Wind").

Womack's husband, Frank Liddell, owns a publishing company, through which Womack found many of the songs that appear on her album. She said that she feels an added responsibility when putting her stamp on other musicians' work. "These are all great singer- songwriters and I worry about how their fans will feel if they hear my versions of their songs," said Womack, who began her career as a professional songwriter. "Ultimately everybody wants their music heard and if I can shine some light on some of these writers, that's an honor. …

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