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CD Review: Erin McLendon – MAKING IT UP AS WE GO

Erin McLendon – MAKING IT UP AS WE GO


MAKING IT UP AS WE GO, the second album
from indie Americana artist Erin McLendon, certainly disproves the theory of
‘sophomore slump’ with this strong offering. 
This seven-track set follows 2015’s FIRE AND WINE, and like its
predecessor, it benefits from the steady hand of producer Stephen Leiweke.
Leiweke wisely puts Erin’s voice front and
center in every track, each of which allows her distinctive vocals and strong
storytelling to shine. The project contains all-original songs, Erin sharing
co-write credit with several strong writers including Patricia Potts, Johnny
Douglas, Bill DiLuigi, Britton Cameron and producer Leiweke.
“Honolulu Love” is Erin’s only solo-write
on the project and consists (almost) entirely of her voice and ukulele playing
alone. She wrote the happy-in-love song following a family vacation in Hawaii
and the surprise Christmas gift of a new uke from her dad. The contagious
finger-snapping, toe-tapping ditty invokes island living with lines like: “Something
in the water, something in the air / Is making sure I just don’t care / ‘cause
I’m falling in Honolulu love / and I don’t plan on falling out.” And there are
plenty of witty word plays such as “Here today, gone to Maui…” 
The lead-off track, “When God Made A
Woman,” gives listeners an idea of Erin’s wry wit with the opening lyric: “In
the beginning, God made man then said ‘Let me try that again.’” With a hint of
reverb and just enough banjo and guitar, this feels custom-made for Americana
airplay.
The title track, “Making It Up as We Go,” is
an uptempo anthem to not sweating the small stuff. “Put on your brave face and
stand up tall / You and I aren’t so different after all” and even though “I
don’t know who I am yet” she tells us that it doesn’t really matter.  In an interview, she has said of this song:
“A nay-sayer comes along to tell us we’re doing it wrong. I say ‘Never mind the
nay-sayer. There is no one path to success, nor a guaranteed one. So, make it
up as you go!’”
It’s obvious that this Durham, NC, native
and Belmont grad had one heck of a good time creating
this upbeat, positive collection of songs, drawing on her musical influences as
diverse as Tina Turner, the Beatles, Brad Paisley and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  (Interestingly, every song on this project
has a ‘cold’ ending rather than a fade, lending a sense of completeness to each
of them.)
Erin McLendon might be making it up as she
goes, but she seems to be making all the right moves on the way.  Give a listen to this showcase of her wit,
wisdom and playfulness.
MAKING IT UP AS WE GO is now available via
all digital and retail platforms including Spotify, Amazon and iTunes. Listen
to tracks at www.erinmclendon.com
 

Review by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International

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