Lee Ann Womack, one of the most distinctive and decorated vocalists in modern music, is set to release her latest album, The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone Oct. 27. The set taps deeply into the country, soul, gospel, and blues of her native East Texas, resulting in an audacious, personal, and sharp-edged work of art.
Womack sat down with Build Series in New York City to discuss how growing up in a diverse — but not commercially driven — musical region has continually informed her 20-year career, not the least to say her latest album, which contains covers of songs from fellow Texan legends George Jones and Lefty Frizzell.
“I grew up in East Texas, and the music field there is just wide open. There’s not as many barriers. It’s not that much of a business — the labels are in Nashville and New York,” she explained. “Those people are selling; it’s like a product. But in Texas, it’s just a way of life. So there’s all kinds of music there. They just don’t worry so much about labels in Texas.”
Additionally, the record was produced by another native Texan — Womack’s own husband, Frank Liddell, whose résumé also includes work with standout Texas artists Miranda Lambert and the Eli Young Band. The album was recorded at Houston’s legendary SugarHill Studios, where George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded some of their earliest works.
It make sense that Womack chose to record in her home region, because, as she noted, she prefers a homelike atmosphere to record in. “I don’t like going out into the hallway and running into a bunch of businesspeople,” she said. “I like to have a chef come in and cook so we don’t have to leave. … I never leave my house, I never go anywhere. I’m sort of a little bit of an introvert, which is weird to say because I do this for a living!
“I wanted to feel like we were making music,” she added, regarding her approach to the album. “Not making ‘McRecords’ — I wanted it to feel like a bunch of friends making music, and I hope that’s what we achieved.”
Womack also addressed her love for Houston — where she and Liddell own a home — and concern for the tragedy the city has been through as a result of Hurricane Harvey. “It is the coolest city. … I could go on and on about how cool it is, so I hate to see them have any struggles at all.”
Watch the full interview with Womack below: