wed 01/03/2017

CD: Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue

CD: Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue

Classy but predictable seasonal offering from The Coal Miner’s Daughter

Mind-bogglingly, ‘White Christmas Blue’ is a meta-album, as much about Lynn and her past as it is about marking Christmas
On the cover of 'White Christmas Blue', Loretta Lynn takes a look back at her own musical history

Another day, another country Christmas album. Yesterday, on theartsdesk, Kacey Musgraves’s A Very Kacey Christmas was given the once-over. Today, it’s the more storied, more venerable Loretta Lynn and White Christmas Blue, her second-ever Christmas album and the belated sequel to 1966’s Country Christmas. Fifty years ago, that album opened with its self-penned title track. In 2016, a remake becomes the second song on the new White Christmas Blue.

“Away in a Manger” was on Country Christmas and it crops up again on White Christmas Blue. The same with “Blue Christmas", “Frosty the Snowman", “White Christmas” and Lynn’s own "To Heck with Ole Santa Claus". This is a meta-album: as much about Lynn and her past as it is about marking Christmas. Mind-boggling stuff for what is, seemingly, a straightforward seasonal offering.

Lynn’s status as a great is secure, not just due to her unique voice but also as a songwriter. Her own songs have tackled gender inequality and the right to female self-determination. Her importance was underlined when her life story became the subject of the 1980 biopic The Coal Miner’s Daughter. More recently, the now-84 Lynn has worked with Elvis Costello and Jack White. She does not exist in a country vacuum. Despite all this, White Christmas Blue is unlikely to be seen in the future as a career highlight.

The album is, like its predecessor Full Circle, produced by John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Hardily surprisingly, a Christmas album so dialled-in to country’s and Lynn’s own heritage is much as expected. It’s classy, sedate, with sparse instrumentation showcasing Lynn’s voice and no trace of the tacky. In the evergreen words which Muriel Spark had Miss Jean Brody speak: “For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”

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