Lee Ann Womack grows up, leaving arenas behind

 

By Sarah Rodman GLOBE STAFF  JUNE 20, 2015

 

If Lee Ann Womack was nervous about how her latest album, 2014’s “The Way I’m Livin’,” might be received, she didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Produced by her husband, Frank Liddell (best known for his work with Miranda Lambert), the superb 13-track collection finds the celestial-voiced songbird delving into traditional country, haunting ballads, and gospel sounds. It was showered immediately with critical plaudits, landed on many year-end top 10 lists, and garnered Grammy, CMT, and Americana award nominations.

“To me, it was one of the records of the year, undeniable. She made a masterpiece,” says Leslie Fram, senior vice president of music strategy at CMT, echoing the words of many listeners. 

Womack, who plays Johnny D’s on Thursday, first made her mark in the late ’90s and early ’00s with hits like “A Little Past Little Rock” and graduation favorite “I Hope You Dance.” As she moved away from the poppier side of country and into a more classic sound, she was less high-profile, but no less beloved as a vocalist. “The Way I’m Livin’ ” cemented her place in the roots world as evidenced by the Americana award nominations, where she is vying for artist of the year with vaunted peers like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell.

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