The Bird & The Rifle With Autographed CD Booklet
Lori McKenna puts a magnifying glass on un-championed lives. She doesn’t just notice the quiet and ordinary, she delights in it – effortlessly transforming the average to extraordinary. The result is over a decade worth of songs filled with honest stories and melodic depth, and her latest release is no exception.
Produced by Dave Cobb, McKenna’s tenth studio album, The Bird & The Rifle revels in the routines and events that may seem mundane but are the most important, transcendent moments of our lives.
The Bird & The Rifle proves that the worlds of Cobb and McKenna were meant to overlap. The Grammy-winning producer behind albums from Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and more, Cobb has emerged as a modern master of capturing the grizzled beauty in imperfection. “This record was made in a way that’s very different from anything else I’ve ever done,” says McKenna. “It’s very much me––this record and the songs. But it’s like I took the 10 songs and just got in someone else’s car and took a ride down the coast. I completely plugged into the world of Dave Cobb.”
Recorded live, the album invites close listening, achieving an intimacy that is comfortable but precise. Pared-down instrumentation including rolling guitar, blood-pumping bass, and soothing percussion creates room for McKenna’s lyrics and vocals to soar. Her voice cuts through not by overpowering, but with stark gentleness.
“Wreck You” kicks the album off with room-shushing heartbreak. Written with Felix McTeigue nearly eight years ago, the song explores the pain of hurting someone else over sparse strings that evoke 70s-era Beatles. “Sometimes we all feel like, ‘Oh, I cannot do anything right,’” McKenna says. “I think your job as a songwriter is in the three and half minutes that you have, to exaggerate that feeling, take that little speck of a feeling and set it on fire.”
“The Bird & The Rifle” is an ideal example of the way McKenna acknowledges the complexity of relationships. She says that the song’s title and concept came from overhearing a joke on a Modern Family rerun airing in the background while she was folding laundry one afternoon. Characters were listing ideas for complementary tattoos that reflect and attract one another, like the moon and stars.
The album also features McKenna’s own recording of “Humble & Kind,” which Tim McGraw recorded and took to country radio this past January. McKenna wrote the song alone at home while her kids were at school. The song is a loving attempt to impart wisdom, layered over three chords. “I can say it’s one of my favorite songs, mostly because I had my kids in my head the whole time I was trying to write it,” she says. “My kids know that it’s theirs, and it’s nice in that way. It worked out pretty good.”
More than anything else, McKenna wants her songs to hit listeners wherever and whoever they are. “My husband always teases me and says I don’t really have the Boston accent I used to have,” McKenna says. “When I started traveling a lot, I started pronouncing my r’s, because they were nonexistent before that. And then when I sing, I have to sing in a way that people can understand my words. So my husband and I have this joke: He says, ‘It’s like you have no self-identity.’ But I figured it out. I’m not supposed to. I’m a songwriter. I’m supposed to be able to identify with these other characters and write songs about them. That’s my job.”
- Number of discs: 1
- Label: CN
- Mono/Stereo: Stereo
- Catalog Number: CNR010