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Lori McKenna '1988' Album Review

Singer-songwriter Lori McKenna is back with a brand new full-length record - her first since releasing The Balladeer in 2020. McKenna is best known for penmanship in the country music world. She's helped write tracks like "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town, "Humble & Kind" by Tim McGraw, and "I Bet You Think About Me" by Taylor Swift. In 1988 McKenna gets the most introspective she's ever been; continuously proving that she's a storyteller through and through.

The LP opens with "The Old Woman In Me" which is an inward-looking anthem about the wisdom that comes with age and how as people, especially as women, we are extra tough on ourselves. The lyrics are filled with bittersweet endearment as she croons, "The old woman in me / Thinks I look good in these jeans / She remembers what her body did / Carrying all those kids." McKenna ends every chorus with the soul-stirring line, "I'm a work in progress / I hope someday I get to be / The old woman in me."


In "Happy Children" McKenna wishes someone well with the ultimate desire being that the other person has happy kids. The lyrics, which were written by McKenna alongside her son Chris, are clever and sweet with a notion that's simple yet extremely grandiose in meaning. She notes "I hope you get back up every time you fall / And you get back in again / But if you only get one thing that's a given / I hope you have happy children."

Other standouts on the project include "Killing Me" with Hillary Lindsey: one of McKenna's frequent songwriting partners. The title track, "1988" is filled with an outpouring of McKenna's love for her husband: "I hope you understand / I've been your biggest fan since 1988." McKenna sings of life's ups and downs in a reflective state with vibrant imagery.


Similarly, "Growing Up" recalls specific places and moments like working at the local Dairy Queen, riding in a smokey station wagon, and watching Oprah on TV. The production has an acoustic shimmer to it that elevates the nostalgia. McKenna exclaims, "All the stars we hung above those small town trees / Young hearts still unbroken / Flies by before you know it / You move on just the way time does / 'Til something brings you right back to growing up." The upbeat, rolling nature of the tune is refreshing, yet doesn't take away