For the title cut of Stoughton, Massachusetts-based Lori McKenna’s forthcoming album The Balladeer, the Grammy-winning songwriter behind “Girl Crush” veers away from her usual autobiographical material for a fictional peek into the world of a musician who “hangs in the darkest bars with downtrodden bleeding-hearts.” It’s there she encounters a guitar player who, in addition to securing her lyrical assistance, has quickly won her heart.
Naturally, as a tortured artist, the balladeer fears that a happy relationship might lead to sacrificing access to the pain that has fueled her songwriting prowess — so much so that she “wore it like a queen wears a crown.” Alas, she needn’t have worried. No spoilers but for a writer whose songs have elicited nearly as many lump-in-the-throat moments as your average Nicholas Sparks novel, McKenna stays true to form.
The Balladeer will be released a week from today, July 24th. That night, at 8:00 p.m. ET, the veteran of the Boston-area music scene will celebrate with an acoustic concert streaming live from Club Passim, the iconic Cambridge, Massachusetts, folk music venue which served as home base for many of McKenna’s early, star-making performances.
“Every time I did something with music, in my brain it was a risk because I was afraid of failing,” McKenna tells Rolling Stone of her early days as a performing songwriter. “The greatest thing about the Boston community and the reason it is so rich is because it’s nurturing. It really is a good environment to come out as a musician and to figure out if you are really a songwriter.”
Available to stream via Club Passim’s Facebook and YouTube pages, the event will feature McKenna performing songs from the album and also serves as a fundraiser for the legendary club, which is now streaming shows nightly.