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Paper Wings & Halo

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Album Review

Many a folkie has partaken of the Boston music scene hoping against hope to emerge from the pack as the singular beacon of success, as did Jonatha Brooke, Aimee Mann, and Tracy Chapman, for example. Lori McKenna belongs to that lineage, though she still walks among the throngs of should-be-better-knowns. Evidence enough is Paper Wings & Halo, which was released independently in 1998 and certainly warrants some attention. From McKenna's pen flow timeless, heart-grabbing melodic lines and psyche-splintering stanzas. Vocally, her powerful, yet touching delivery lies somewhere between and betwixt a few other New Englanders, namely Patty Griffin, Melissa Ferrick, and Ellis Paul. Paper Wings & Halo features 13 musical poems, but as oftentimes proves to be true, despite the greatness of the individual pieces, the whole is made even greater by the cohesiveness of the collection. And although three of the tracks were recorded live, the flow is seamless thanks to the simple, thoughtful production offered by Seth Connelly. If this album is any kind of signpost, look for McKenna's light to be shining bright for a long while to come.


Born: 22 December 1968 in Stoughton, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

By the time her songwriting career took off in 2005, Boston native Lori McKenna had already released four strong independent albums of her own. McKenna was raised in a musical family and wrote her first songs as a teenager, though it wasn't until her late twenties that she began performing on Boston's folk circuit. After releasing her debut, Paper Wings and Halo, in 2000, she signed with indie Signature Sounds and released three more albums over the next four years, including 2004's acclaimed Bittertown....
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Paper Wings & Halo, Lori McKenna
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