The Tree in the title of Lori McKenna's 11th album is an allusion to a family tree, an apt choice for a singer/songwriter with a keen eye for the intricacies of domesticity. Family has always been held a fascination for McKenna but it comes to the forefront on The Tree, which consists of 11 songs concerning the run of life. Children come and go, as do parents, past slights are forgiven but not forgotten, comfort is drawn from the same closeness that can also cause irritation. McKenna's sharply etched songs are given warm, cozy settings by producer Dave Cobb, who is back on board after 2016's The Bird and the Rifle. Cobb's clean but not crisp production doesn't celebrate its exquisite details, such as the 12-string guitars that grace the swaying "The Fixer," but that suits McKenna, whose handsome, lilting melodies camouflage the precision of her lyrics. This subtlety is the strength of The Tree: it can be heard as soothing, healing music, but its real rewards reveal themselves through close listening.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine