There are some "country" stars that can't seem to make true country music. Then there are artists like Loretta Lynn that can't not create pure country music. Lynn's "White Christmas Blue" album may feel like a Christmas miracle to many traditional country fans.
Take Lynn's version of "Away in a Manger," for which Lynn is listed as arranger, for example. It features a lovely Paul Franklin steel guitar solo. "Blue Christmas" is best known for its Elvis-y rockabilly arrangement. Here, though, Tony Harrell's honky tonk piano, which leads into more of Franklin's wonderful steel work, bounces like a barroom Christmas afternoon. Lynn is in fine voice, whether she's vocalizing holiday favorites or singing the seasonal blues on originals, as she does with the title track and "To Heck with Ole Santa Claus." The latter finds Lynn playfully plotting revenge against St. Nick for letting her down.
All too often, performers try too hard to sound all reverent for their holiday recordings. And while Lynn gives us a few hymns, including "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful," she mostly provides the secular stuff. She sounds like she's singing the songs she likes best instead of, perhaps, trying to be someone she's really not.
It's easy to take legends like Lynn for granted. But don't do it. Lynn is still recording high quality country. She's also writing fine new songs. The mythical Santa Clause is ageless. Seemingly, so is Lynn. "White Christmas Blue" is more the wrapping, whereas Loretta Lynn is the true gift. Be ye thankful.