Lori McKenna: The Bird & the Rifle

I think there’s really something about artists who can make you remember the extraordinary moments in ordinary days. When the words alone do it justice, but the words are matched with the notes that seem like they were made for each other. And for 3 or 4 minutes, the world isn’t so heavy anymore- or at least maybe it feels that way because it seems like you’re no longer carrying it alone.

Enter Lori McKenna, someone who I recently discovered over the summer after I saw she was touring with Tim McGraw. She’s been on the music scene for a few decades now, lori mckennawhether recording her own albums or penning songs for other artists. She has 10 albums out to date, my favorite obviously being the one in the title; The Bird & the Rifle. But on top of that, she has written songs for big name artists such as Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, and Hunter Hayes. She was the sole writer on McGraw’s massive hit, “Humble and Kind,” which won a Grammy in 2017 for Best Country Song. In The Bird & the Rifle, McKenna plays the song herself, which takes on a totally different sound when she’s singing it. With a slight rasp in her voice and an almost unnoticeable twang, (considering she does live in Mass despite spending time in Nashville,) McKenna’s voice is something that no matter what I just don’t get tired of hearing.


On the album, I was instantly drawn to “Halfway Home”. It’s like the song that comes right before the redemption song. Right when you’ve reached the pivotal moment where you realize it’s time to change- when tomorrow morning you will dust yourself off and realize you’re better off without him (or her), but first you need to get home. First, you have to start your car, wipe your eyes and just drive. It’s not a moving ballad that will sweep the masses into its grace and give them courage to be stronger. It’s a raw, emotional account of what it feels like when you’re not strong yet, but you no longerthe bird and the rifle choose to let someone keep breaking you. I cried when I first heard it. Maybe because of the place that I was in, or the place that the girl she’s singing about was in, but it stuck with me ever since.

Another highlight for me includes the title track, “The Bird and the Rifle.” The melody in the chorus is beautiful and a little bit all over the place in a good way- just like its lyrics. “Wreck You” is another great one, which was also nominated at the 2017 Grammy’s for Best American Roots Song. In all honesty, all the tracks are great, but if you were following my rec’s I’d advise you to start with those.

Lori’s playing a few shows in Boston in December… unfortunately they’re all sold out and I’m just realizing it as I type this and UGH life ain’t fair. Here’s a link to her website anyway if you want to check her out/be on the lookout for more shows, and I’ve attached the album below.

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