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Lori McKenna Discussess Life’s Many Stages in New Album ‘1988’ (Review)

Off the tails of “The Balladeer,” the famed singer/songwriter releases another full-length project depicting the ins and outs of life.

photo credit: Becky Fluke

Stoughton, Massachusetts native Lori McKenna is one of the most prolific singers and songwriters in country music history. And today (July 21), the GRAMMY-nominated songstress has solidified that title by releasing yet another perfectly handcrafted record, 1988out now on all music streaming platforms.

The official follow-up to her 2020 project The Balladeer, 1988 is McKenna’s fourth consecutive album produced by Dave Cobb.

When listening to 1988 from beginning to end, one can catch the story the 54-year-old is telling throughout the project — her upbringing and ardent curiosity for the future. She appreciates getting older and the beauty that life has to offer, which is something that resonates well with her audience and other music lovers worldwide.

Of the album, McKenna shares, “I was trying to let my age and experience guide me through making a record I wished I’d made when I was younger. I really wanted it to sound like if I made a rock record in the ‘90s, and then I remembered that I made my first album in 1998. There’s something so 30 years ago in my head about this record. In a way I wish I could start again and know what I know now.”

After listening to 1988 in its entirety, the Celeb Secrets Country gals decided to rank the tracks and share our thoughts on each song. While we’re pretty sure our favorites will change over time, here’s where the songs stand in our minds atm.

Keep scrolling to hear more from 1988 and don’t forget to let us know what you think of the record by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sliding into our DMs on Instagram at @celebsecretscountry.

“Killing Me”

Featuring one of McKenna’s reoccurring songwriting pals, Hillary Lindsey, this song dips in realism and shelters a mid-tempo percussion harboring a crossover instrumentation.

She sings, “You know how to find the stone-cold darkness / Even when the stars are shinin’ at night / You always see the glass half empty / Even when I’m always pouring, pouring the wine. / Would it kill you to be happy? / Would it kill you to be happy? / Would it kill you to be happy? / ‘Cause tryna make you happy / Tryna make you happy is killing me, killing me.”


The title track “1988” sets the tone for the rest of the songs on the album. The 54-year-old singer/songwriter tied the knot with her beloved husband Gene in 1988 and the lyricism confronts the days of being young and naive. Channeling a Martina McBride ambiance, this folksy love song shouts out McKenna’s overflowing kinship with her husband declaring, “I’ve been your biggest fan since 1988.

“Happy Children”

The A-list Nashville songsmith wrote “Happy Children” with her son Chris McKenna and leaves with the message — “I hope your children are happy.”

About the song, “I heard someone say this once, ‘I wish you happy children.’ Feels like the greatest wish of all time. This song was happily written with my son Chris McKenna. It went through a couple different variations until Dave Cobb brought it so beautifully to life in the studio with the band. If my heart could say just one thing, this song is what it would say.”

“Wonder Drug”

“Wonder Drug” depicts a story known to many. Its riddled with the honesty and darkness that the opioid epidemic brings through the perspective of a couple kids with high hopes for themselves, but diminished due to addiction. This Americana-stained country ballad questions society and the results of it. She’s left singing, “Why couldn’t love be the wonder drug?”


Written by Brianna Vacca

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