2005’s There’s More Where That Came From is a pivotal album in the discography of Lee Ann Womack that helped to erase memories of the disastrous Something Worth Leaving Behind and to re-establish much of the credibility that she had lost with that ill-advised flirtation with pop diva-dom. Three years after her last full-length studio release, Lee Ann was back in a big way, with a new producer and a new sound. Or, perhaps a more accurate way to put it would be a new old sound. There’s More Where That Came From pays homage to a bygone era, with a retro sound and artwork that made it resemble a Tammy Wynette album from the 1970s. The disc itself even has the same design that MCA had used on its vinyl releases in the 70s and 80s, with a rainbow coming out of the clouds.
The country music landscape had changed considerably since Lee Ann’s debut just eight year earlier. Whereas her first album arrived at a time when it appeared that the genre might be swinging back toward its roots, There’s More Where That Came From was released at a time when things had moved decidedly toward the pop end of the spectrum and when the youth movement was in full force, leaving artists over the age of 40 at a distinct disadvantage. It is therefore, a little surprising that Lee Ann was allowed to release what could only have been viewed at the time as a non-commercial album, but her career had nosedived so badly by that time, her label perhaps felt that there was nothing left to lose.
While there was little to praise about Something Worth Leaving Behind, it is no understatement to say that not a single misstep was made with respect to There’s More Where That Came From. The material is first-rate, as is Lee Ann’s vocal performance throughout, and Byron Gallimore’s production is tastefully restrained. Radio was predictably lukewarm to the album’s three singles; “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” barely scraped into the Top 10, while “Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago”, which Lee Ann wrote with Dale Dodson and Dean Dillon topped out at #22 and “He Oughta Know That By Now” stalled at #32. In the end, however, the lack of radio support didn’t matter. The album was a huge critical success and managed to sell respectably despite the under-performance of its singles. It earned gold certification and was awarded Album of the Year by the CMA. Not marketed to soccer moms, the album’s songs tackle topics that once were country music staples: cheating, drinking, dead-end relationships and the guilt that comes with all three.
“I May Hate Myself In The Morning” deals with a late night phone call from a “friend with benefits”. The protagonist knows that the relationship is wrong, but she’s clearly been caught in a weak moment and it’s only a matter of time before she gives in. Lee Ann’s ex-husband Jason Sellers provides the harmony vocals on this fantastic cut which won the CMA’s Single of the Year award in 2005. The title track, which opens the album, could perhaps be the same woman on the morning after. She’s clearly feeling guilty after a motel rendezvous, but she knows that it’s inevitable that it will happen again. She’s drowning her sorrows and fighting off the advances of a would-be suitor in “One’s A Couple”.
The perhaps semi-autobiographical “Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago” finds her in a contemplative mood, remembering her youth and naivety and finally realizing that the past wasn’t so ideal after all. It’s a beautifully performed and well-written song, but perhaps not the wisest choice for a radio single. It’s not surprising that it failed to crack the Top 20. “He Oughta Know That By Now”, which is one of my favorite tracks on the album, seems like a a safer choice for a single, but radio had lost interest at this point and it peaked outside the Top 20.
Interspersed between these drinking, cheating and feeling lonely songs are some more positive fare: Kostas’ “Happiness” and “What I Miss About Heaven”, written by Marcus Hummon and Annie Ruboff, provide a nice change of pace, while a quiet and understated reading of Sonny Throckmorton’s “Waiting For The Sun To Shine” offers a glimmer of hope that things will eventually get better. And Don Schlitz’s and Brett James’ “Stubborn (Psalm 151)” finds Lee Ann battling her demons, but also discovering a molecule of faith that she hopes will set her free. The album closes with an acoustic version of the Jack Clement standard “Just Someone I Used To Know”, which is included as a hidden track.
This is one of those albums where it’s difficult to pick favorite tracks because the quality of the songs is consistently high from beginning to end. While it is not Lee Ann’s best selling album, it is widely acknowledged as her masterpiece. In addition, it is one of those increasingly rare instances of artistry triumphing over commercial concerns. It had only limited success at radio, but Lee Ann’s loyal fans, along with some well deserved critical acclaim and industry awards, helped to make it a retail success. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is currently available for download for the bargain price of $4.99 at Amazon.