The simple black and white photograph of Lillie Mae on cover of this record is striking for all the right reasons. It commands us to notice the distinctive style of this artist and remember her face. Stepping out from the shadows of both her family band and her employer turned producer Jack White might be daunting but her eyes and the songs on Forever and Then Some tell you she’s more than ready.
Opening with the bluesy rock single Over the Hill and Through the Woods might seem a brave move on an album billed as classic country but that choice just sums up the confidence displayed throughout by this young songwriter. Anyway country fans need not worry as she moves quickly into Honky Tonks and Taverns, which is more of the typical kind of hoedown stomper you might expect from an artist who was brought up in a travelling band and paid her dues on the streets of music city. ‘Wash Clean‘, with its memorable hook is her strongest song lyrically and hints at a darker side beneath the sweetness of the singing.
These Daze is a gorgeous little bluegrass number, channeling Dolly which can never be a bad thing. On the title track Forever and then Some her voice is eerily reminiscent of Natalie Maines (although perhaps lacking some of her natural sass). It’s been so long without a Dixie Chicks album when you find an artist who encapsulates a similar sound you can’t help but rejoice. The classic Hank-inspired To Go Wrong is another standout, giving her musicianship space to shine. Her talent as a violinist underpins the sound of this album and it’s refreshing to hear such beautiful fiddle work back again on a country record.
Dance to the Beat of My Own Drum feels a bit lightweight musically but the sentiment is genuine. She sings all the words to her own songs and she’s rightfully proud of herself and grateful to have the opportunity to do so. On the strength of Forever and Then Some you can only see Lillie Mae continuing to blossom now she has proved she is much more than just a back up player.