We gave it a B-
Mac McAnally has logged six solo albums since 1977, but he’s still better known as a songwriter, turning out hits like ”Old Flame” for Alabama and ”Two Dozen Roses” for Shenandoah. Alas, there’s nothing that tuneful or memorable in Live and Learn, which fall into two categories: slice-of-Southern-life vignettes (”Junk Cars,” about a good ol’ boy’s automotive obsession), and big life changes that knock you to your knees (”Somewhere Nice Forever,” parting words to a dying mother). McAnally has a James Taylor preoccupation in vocal style and song structure—lots of light R&B-cum-acoustic country—and he’s far more effective at small-town portraits than self-pitying meditations on lost love. But in his songs about sorting out what really matters in life, McAnally strives for more than just the usual Nashville angst. For that, he deserves a listen, if not necessarily a round of applause.