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story.lead_photo.caption "The Tree" by Lori McKenna

A Lori McKenna

The Tree

CN/Thirty Tigers

It's rare to read about Lori McKenna without hearing that she got married at 19 and had the first of her five children at 20. And since her latest album is a canon of songs about family, it would be easy to pigeonhole her as a mom singing sweetly about a world she knows well.

That would all be true, but it shouldn't diminish her impact. McKenna is a brilliant songwriter.

On The Tree, she matches melody and mood to simple imagery that lets listeners see the picture she's creating. A mother who can't sit still, for example, is a hummingbird in a living room. A father's billfold in church conveys greater significance than the simple image suggests.

The new album follows The Bird and the Rifle, McKenna's 2016 gem that netted three Grammy nominations. The praise was well-deserved, but this might be a better album.

Working with producer Dave Cobb, McKenna builds on her reputation as a songwriter that other songwriters notice. Her singing is straight-ahead honest, her eyes fixed on the word-portrait she's painting.

In the album's first single, "People Get Old," a heart-rending masterpiece about aging and the passing of time, the heat is in the lyrics. "Every line on your face tells a story somebody knows," she sings. McKenna's voice and the song ache with beauty.

Hot tracks: "People Get Old," "The Tree," "Like Patsy Would"

-- SCOTT STROUD

The Associated Press

C The Internet

Hive Mind

Columbia

On this 13-track album, the Los Angeles-based soul and R&B band The Internet is laid-back and subtle. How laid-back? Almost to the point that many songs feel unfinished -- just a series of chunky grooves, drum loops and hand claps barely stitched together.

"Hive Mind" by The Internet

Musicians Matt Martians, Christopher Smith, Patrick Paige and Steve Lacy have given lead singer Sydney "Syd" Bennett mellow textures and a series of dreamy canvases to expand her range, but the album lacks the bite and snap of previous releases.

Standouts include "La Di Da," "Roll (Burbank Funk)" and "Come Over," songs that show off the band members' ability to riff off each other's hooks.

But "Beat Goes On" swirls endlessly on until halfway when a different beat goes on, as if the band was divided about its direction. "Next Time/Humble Pie" goes fine until it, too, switches gears in the middle and shoots off into another song, ending bloated and messy.

"Stay the Night" is marred by the endless repetition of the song's title and "Bravo" has an annoying drum effect that overpowers a delicate bass-driven song with its pneumatic, unwelcome mechanical insistence. "Wanna Be" meanders and meanders, getting lost in itself.

Most of the songs concern modern love, although the band reaches for something larger on "It Gets Better (With Time)," a beautiful, uplifting song about fighting through pain that's fueled by Bennett's falsetto.

Hot tracks: "It Gets Better (With Time)," "La Di Da," "Come Over"

-- MARK KENNEDY

The Associated Press

A- The Supremes

The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland

Motown/UME

In the mid-'60s, The Supremes were an unstoppable hit machine. They had five No. 1's in a row starting with 1964's "Where Did Our Love Go" and went on to land 12 songs (10 between 1964 and 1967) in the top spot. All were written and produced by the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland.

"The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland" by The Supremes

This 1967 album, with a title that pays tribute to that team, has been reissued as a deluxe two-CD set and includes the No. 1 hits "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone." The first CD offers mono and stereo versions of the original album, plus recent remixes of five tracks, including "The Happening," "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On."

The second CD is of particular interest to Supremes fans. The original trio -- Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard -- played New York's Copacabana club in 1967. It was their third appearance at the club and their final live performance together. (An earlier Copa performance was released as The Supremes at The Copa in 1965). The second CD also has more mixes and alternate versions of songs, including a string-imbued version of "You're Gone But Always in My Heart."

The set has two booklets, one a reprint of the group's 1967 tour book. The second includes an interview with Dozier, who offers insights into the group and the songs on the album. Lots of good stuff to read. And both booklets are loaded with great photos. The set is well annotated.

Hot tracks: "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" on disc two, which has a rougher-sounding lead vocal by Ross; "You Keep Me Hangin' On," the Copa live recording, an extended mix of "The Happening"

-- ELLIS WIDNER

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Style on 07/31/2018

Print Headline: McKenna, Internet, Supremes fill niches

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