Loretta Lynn Van Lear Rose

[Interscope; 2004]

Styles:  country
Others: Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty

Loretta Lynn and Jack White just might be having a love affair. I mean, they worked closely together last summer on this here album, Jack dedicated an album of his own to Loretta, Loretta gave "sister" Meg one of her dresses in true "I got your man now, so take this gift as a symbol of my triumph, little lady" fashion, and most notably, Jack would no doubt date a 70 year old country legend just to reconnect with the roots and gain even more credibility. To this gossiper, the proof is all there. Ms. Zellweger is gonna have to learn how to finger-pick or play fiddle real quick if she wants to win back her man.

But it's not the hype and outside storylines that make Van Lear Rose so brilliant. The beauty of the album rests in Loretta Lynn's exceptional songwriting. Most people know her history by now, everything from being the coal miner's daughter to becoming a pioneer of feminist songwriting, but the most important thing to draw attention to is her longevity and success rate. Sure she's had her failures, but the positives outnumber those by tons. It's evident that her ability to write great songs has never faltered, and this album, the first where all the songs are a product of her alone, shows her consistency is reaching into et another decade.

Contrary to most contemporary songwriters, Loretta tells classic tales of drunken affairs, infidelity, belief, family tradition, and revenge, all while maintaining a distinct freshness and straightforwardness. Her narratives are rich in honesty and nostalgia, leading the listener to a more pure and loyal period in time, where you can sit on a bucket comfortably and trust the man next to you in the grocery line. Each song is sung by Lynn's untarnished voice. She has somehow managed to maintain her gorgeous vocal cords through the years, sounding as youthful as ever.

The musical accompaniment here really pushes the songs to great heights. Whether it's the slight airiness around one of Jack's guitar riffs, a crisp crack of a snare, or the sudden emergence of slide guitar, the additional instruments provide a complimentary boost. Jack's production techniques sound both aged and modern; a fine balancing act that does Loretta's solid songs much justice. Without White's assistance, these immaculate tunes may have not gotten the exposure they certainly deserve. Van Lear Rose owes its greatness to timing and well-bred songwriting.

1. Van Lear Rose
2. Portland Oregon
3. Trouble on the Line
4. Family Tree
5. Have Mercy
6. High on a Mountain Top
7. Little Red Shoes
8. God Makes No Mistakes
9. Women's Prison
10. This Old House
11. Mrs. Leroy Brown
12. Miss Being Mrs

13. Story of My Life

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