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Loretta Cooper

New Generation – 2000 (Reba)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Loretta Cooper

Big label country music may be getting away from its roots, but out in the clubs of honky tonk America, there's still plenty of room for country that's neither soaked in pop influences nor single-mindedly backward-looking like some alt.country acts. That's the kind of music Loretta Cooper & Iron Horse make, and they do a fine job.

Mixing well-selected covers of songs from Patty Loveless ("Mr. Man In The Moon"), Dolly Parton ("When Someone Wants To Leave"), Jeanne Pruett ("Satin Sheets") and Wanda Jackson ("This Should Go On Forever") with new material from her band and label, Cooper sings with a solid, no-frills style, nicely supported by a band several notches above competent. Their tasteful yet energetic backing is one of the highlights. If there's anything of a retro flavor to New Generation, it's not of the '50's, but, rather, the 1970's. Like much of mainstream country then, the arrangements here are firmly grounded in classic styles; "When I'm Lovin' You" and "Losin' My Memory" are straightforward shuffles, while "Sad Side Of Happy" echoes a long string of heartbreak waltzes. Yet, there are also hints of rhythm & blues on "I Wanna Hear It From You" and rock on "I Just Need Your Love," just as there were on country radio 20 and 30 years ago. Cooper explains it herself on the title track, which both laments the passing of the cultural setting that gave birth to country and accepts it as inevitable. That's a smart attitude, and it makes for a solid, satisfying album. (Reba, 1050 Barnardo Ave., Peterborough, Ontario, Can., K9H 5X2, 705-876-7541, ( E-Mail: sparker@ptbo.igs.net)