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Lane assumes mantle of "Highway Queen"

By Brian Baker, May 2017

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"This process was different because I knew the guys in the studio. They were my age, my level. So, if something didn't sound right musically, I'd be like, 'What if you did this?' and I started humming melodies. And then it was like, 'Oh my God, that's exactly what I sang.' I didn't know I could write melodies vocally and do my job. It changed the process altogether, and I made my own record with Jonathan."

Lane re-recorded most of the songs from the Wilson sessions, but in the transition from one record to the next, a handful of songs were left behind (Lane promises they're good enough to be considered for her next album). She revisited "Muddy Waters," a song from Auerbach's work on "All or Nothin'" that didn't quite turn out, and found an approach that was successful. And then there was "Jackpot," a song that Lane had been referring to in the abstract for months.

"I was going to write a 'conceptual hit' about my love story with Jonathan, and it was going to be called 'Jackpot,' and it was going to be a smash," says Lane with a laugh. "We went back to Tennessee to get the mixing started with Collin DuPuis and ice the cake on a couple of songs, and I was like, 'We're done.' I turned in the tracks, and the label was like, 'Where's 'Jackpot?' and I said, 'Oh, that's a conceptual hit.' And they were like, 'No, you need to write the damn song.'"

In 45 minutes, Lane cranked out the lead single from "Highway Queen," essentially the launch code for the album's immense success.

"It was already kind of there, it just spit out of me," says Lane. "I wrote it in front of everybody on the spot. I like to write quickly anyway, but then I like to rub it in their faces that I can write a good song."

Over the course of her four albums, Lane has been described as outlaw country and compared to the likes of Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris and Wanda Jackson. She's humbled by the acclaim but insists she isn't attempting to replicate the previous generation's legendary accomplishments.

"People ask, 'Do you identify with outlaw and with country?' Yes, of course, I do, but I know I'm not traditional country, and I'm not going to try to be," says Lane. "The outlaws are a specific generation that have almost all passed away because of time. We're not outlaws, but we are going left of center, and what you seek as a writer is a short amount of words that a bunch of people can process. I embrace anything that pushes people in the right direction."

The comparisons to Lynn and Jackson are accurate to a point, but Lane is adamant that she's got a long road to travel before she accepts the mantle.

"They're comparing me to Loretta and Emmylou and Wanda, not because I'm as famous or as good, but because in our time, what I'm doing, what Margo Price is doing, what Kacey Musgraves is doing, is comparable to what they were doing in their time," says Lane. "I'm not trying to be Loretta, maybe I'm subconsciously channeling her spirit. I'm fiery and say whatever I want. That's what Loretta did.

"There's a taping I just did for CBS, and I'm singing with Loretta in her living room, and they sent me the audio for approval, and it sounds like 'Don't Come Home a Drinkin'' from her 1960s recording, and it's unfathomable to me that she sat on her damn sofa and held the little microphone and sang like that, at 85. She's a one-off, and nobody's ever going to be as good as her. It's a pleasure to be compared to her enough to be in her presence. She was building me up. She said, 'You need to tell everybody you're the boss.' And I said, 'Oh, Loretta, I've done that, but it doesn't work as well as it must for you. If you would tell everybody I'm the boss, they would see things differently.'"

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