Lee Ann Womack’s Country-Siren Schizophrenia


Of all the divas Nashville has coughed up recently, Lee Ann Womack has to be the saddest—which easily makes her the most fascinating, particularly since her biggest hit was the ultra-uplift, seize-the-day, let’s-all-cry-and-twirl-on-the-beach anthem “I Hope You Dance.” So in 2005, when she snuck off to a dirty motel room for a liaison with trad country in There’s More Where That Came From, it seemed like a genius move. However,Call Me Crazy arrives and hedges the bet: Downy pop blooms next to
pedal-steel-driven barroom weepers. The title is apt—this one’s got a
pronounced multiple-personality disorder.

Consequently, the shivers of recognition when Womack sings “I bet you’re in a bar” in the glorious ache of “Last Call” give way to amnesia as you try to recall many of the songs after it. Furthermore, so many bromides float to the top of “I Found It in You” that it would make Hallmark gag. But as much as that song could be a PowerPoint presentation in Music Row Pandering 101, “The Bees” is weird by the standards of any genre, much less the tight-ass message-control freaks that run country music. An industrial hum and deep bass-drum slaps frame a song about child abuse and the redemptive power of being a drone . . . OK, that’s just a guess. Whatever it is, it’s plenty cool. Womack tries to do her best Dolly Parton impression on the flat “King of Broken Hearts,” then retreats to uplift with the string-filled closer “Story of My Life.” Even so, there’s a palpable melancholy in Womack’s delivery, a resignation that makes you believe—all right, hope—that there’s a little more where that came from, and a little less of everything else.