Womack's Back, And Back To Her Roots

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

After a three-year break between albums, Lee Ann Womack is back with a new set that has Music Row buzzing.

Returning full circle to her country roots, "There's More Where That Came From" (due Feb. 8 from MCA Nashville) showcases the Texas-born singer serving up a collection of tunes reminiscent of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.

In fact, those icons helped shape Womack's vision for the new record. "In my office I have these framed album covers [of] Loretta, Tammy, Dolly, Connie Smith [and] Jessi Colter all hanging on my wall," Womack says.

She will be able to add her own framed album to her collection as MCA is issuing the set on vinyl as well as CD, and the cover has a very retro look.

But most important, the music could take its place alongside any of country music's timeless classics. It finds Womack wrapping her sweet, buttery vocals around a strong collection of songs penned by Don Schlitz, Brett James, Sonny Throckmorton and Kostas, among others.

Womack admits to being a little frustrated with the music business prior to recording this album. "I just didn't know really what to do. I didn't know what direction to go," she says.

"At the time there was a lot of label turmoil," says Womack, who started her career on the now-defunct Decca label. "They kept downsizing and regrouping, so I didn't know what would happen to a record if I did turn one in, because every time I've turned in a record, the label has shut down. So, I just decided to lay low."

Womack's self-titled debut on Decca peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and was certified platinum. Her sophomore effort, "Some Things I Know," arrived while Decca was closing and some of its roster —- including Womack —- was being folded into MCA. It peaked at No. 20 and was certified gold.

Womack's third album, "I Hope You Dance," was a huge success, selling 2.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But the follow-up, "Something Worth Leaving Behind," came out as MCA and Mercury were being merged into Universal Music Group Nashville and sold only 287,000 units.

Womack says those situations taught her to go with the flow and wait for her next opportunity. She began working on the new album when her husband, producer Frank Liddell, gave her a song that spurred her creative juices.

"Frank brought home 'I May Hate Myself in the Morning.' It was almost like the song said, 'Just go with me, this is the direction we need to go,'" she says of tune, which became the album's first single and a top 15 title on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

"With every record I usually will find one song as the anchor and build the record around it. That was the song for this record that I started with, and I [looked] for material that fit with that."

Byron Gallimore produced "There's More Where That Came From" (except for one cut by Greg Droman). The album features the kind of traditional country Womack grew up listening to in Texas. She even includes a bonus track, "Just Someone I Used to Know," that was previously cut by Parton and Porter Wagoner and by George Jones.

One of the most talked-about cuts is "Stubborn (Psalm 151)," penned by James and Schlitz. When she began listening to the demo, Womack says, "by the middle of it, I was just beside myself. I thought this was the best song I've ever heard." She says other artists also wanted to cut it and a "Music Row tug of war" ensued, with Womack emerging as the victor.

Womack says the success of "I Hope You Dance" was "a double-edged sword... If you sell millions of records, the label wants and expects you to come back and do it again. So there is pressure."

She admits that pressure caused her to really overthink that massive hit's follow-up album. "I thought so much, harder than I've ever worked before on a record on 'Something Worth Leaving Behind,' and it just didn't work," Womack says. "I promised myself with this record I wouldn't think at all. I would just totally follow my heart and not my head."




Excerpted from the Feb. 12, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.

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