Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Lori McKenna will release her highly anticipated new album, The Balladeer, July 24 on CN Records via Thirty Tigers. In advance of the release, the new single, “When You’re My Age,” dropped on April 30th.
In conjunction with its release, “When You’re My Age” has been selected as the official song for the Class of 2020 by Jostens—the nation’s leading provider of custom class jewelry, graduation products and yearbooks. The song will be featured as part of Jostens’ free online “Virtual Commencement” programs this spring and summer, which have been designed to help high schools and colleges celebrate their Class of 2020 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the partnership, McKenna shares, “As a songwriter, but even more as a mom of a high school senior, I’m so honored to offer up a song for the Class of 2020. I love that Jostens is making a special salute to this year’s high school and college graduates. It’s an unprecedented time and these graduates deserve the best celebration possible.”
Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, The Balladeer is McKenna’s most personal album to date featuring songs that reflect firsthand on her relationships with her children, husband and family. Following this theme, McKenna wrote the majority of the album alone except for three tracks written with Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose—a group collectively known as the Love Junkies. In addition to McKenna (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Cobb (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), the album also features Brian Allen (bass, cello, upright bass), Chris Powell (drums, percussion) and Philip Towns (piano, wurlitzer, mellotron, harmonium) as well as background vocals from Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman along with Hillary Lindsey, Kristen Rogers and Liz Rose.
Reflecting on the album, McKenna shares, “I’m at the age now where you can see really well where you’re going, because you’re helping your parents and you’ve lived through what your kids are doing. It’s this weird emotional time where you’re like a bookkeeper, writing it all down, trying to make sense of it and add it all up somehow.”
The release of The Balladeer continues a series of landmark years for McKenna following her 2018 album, The Tree. Nominated for “Album of the Year” at the 2019 Americana Music Awards, the album received widespread critical acclaim and landed on several “Best of 2018” lists including Entertainment Weekly, Paste, Slate, The A.V. Club, The Washington Post and Rolling Stone, who declared, “another batch of pristine compositions…the singer-songwriter has established herself as not only one of country music’s most respected songwriters…but more importantly one of its most poignant storytellers.” Additionally, NPR Music proclaimed, “the beloved writer further cements her status as one of our foremost documentarians of domesticity…she’s an invaluable pillar of songwriting and growing ever stronger, just like that sturdy oak in your childhood backyard,” while Paste praised, “McKenna’s attention to detail, and the way she makes universal sentiments suddenly, and piercingly, specific, are why her songs are special enough to have earned the deep respect of her fellow folk singers.”
In addition to her career as a solo artist, McKenna continues to enjoy tremendous success as one of the music industry’s most in-demand songwriters. In 2017, she became the first woman ever to win the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year award two years in a row and also won back-to-back Grammys for Best Country Song for “Girl Crush” performed by Little Big Town and “Humble and Kind” performed by Tim McGraw. Moreover, she became the first female to ever win Songwriter of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards that same year. In addition to writing songs for a multitude of award-winning artists including Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Hunter Hayes and Reba McEntire, McKenna also co-wrote “Always Remember Us This Way,” which was featured in the Academy Award-winning 2018 film, A Star Is Born.