Worth the Wait
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This album is everything I generally dislike: wall-to-wall wholesomeness, family values, and parents singing about their children. Mind, I've nothing against kids—but I nearly always find songs about parenthood embarrassing in their sentimentality. So why do I suddenly adore an entire album of this stuff?
Let's start with the obvious: the talent of the couple featured, the husband-wife team of Charlotte Kendrick and Dan Rowe, she a Pawling, NY native, University of Vermont grad, and Peace Corps vet; and he a multi-instrumentalist, veteran of the Northeast music scene, and a producer of indie label records. Okay—good values. Now let's go deeper. Ms. Kendrick doesn't just have a nice voice—it's one that stops you in your tracks and makes you ask, "Who is that?" Her vocals are often compared to Patty Griffin, but Lori McKenna is a better choice.
Kendrick and Rowe have three kids and the last one is the reason why the album is christened Worth the Wait; it was almost eight years between Kendrick's I Get Stupid and the new record. The album evokes Lori McKenna in the way in which family comes first and music second. Appropriately, it opens with the sunny "Another One on the Way," rendered in soft country folk style and oozing family values, but not in a mawkish or romantic way. One of the album's many joys is that Kendrick and Rowe simply embrace their choices and move on: There’s no question we’ve got ourselves a handful/So little time for us/But we’re never given more than we can handle/We’ve got this babe, another one on the way. There's nothing preachy about them and no sugarcoating what it takes to get by. On "Complicated," Kendrick sings, Nothing's simple as it seems/We both have our dreams/And we know nothing worth having comes easily/But, oh, it's complicated/Oh, it's complicated. Check out also the up-tempo, bluegrassy "By Firelight," which might be destined to become an ode to exhausted moms everywhere—a veritable litany of the ways in which kids and duties can drive a person to the point where, …you’re hiding in your basement/‘Cause you can no longer take it/Watching Youtube on your phone/ You should be folding clothes/Prepping dinner, wiping a nose/But all you need is one small minute alone.
Call this an Americana album that's both sweet and refreshingly honest. There's some folk, some bluegrass, a touch of hoedown, and the vibe of the title track is that of an anticipatory "Circle Game" update. But, like Ms. McKenna, not a peep of complaint from Kendrick—just that voice that makes you ask again, "Who is that?" and shames curmudgeons like me. Rob Weir