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Loretta Lynn

Van Lear Rose – 2004 (Interscope)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Loretta Lynn

Johnny Cash had his Rick Rubin, and it seems that Loretta Lynn has hers in the form of Jack White of the White Stripes.

And that means an album of lots of excellent music with all 13 songs penned by Lynn. Lynn looks to her family past and her own career for inspiration for several songs (the title track, "High on a Mountain Top" about working the coal mines and the "folks know what they've got" and "Story of My Life"). She also isn't afraid to tell off a woman who interfered with her family's life ("Family Tree" with the great lines "No I didn't come to fight/If he was a better man I might/But I wouldn't dirty my hands on trash like you").

Producer White gets the most out of Lynn's voice, doing the songs on a single vocal take. There's a raw intensity throughout "There's Trouble on the Line" and the harder edged "Have Mercy" with a throwback '50s sound.

Thee are some non-country touches to the music with rock atmospherics popping up here and there such as on the title track and particularly the lead-in to the follow-up, "Portland, Oregon," a duet with White that rocks. Yet even there, Lynn's voices comes through in its usual twangy tones.

Lynn clearly has made one of her best albums in years and so far the best of 2004.