sat 25/09/2021

Album: Loretta Lynn - Still Woman Enough | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Loretta Lynn - Still Woman Enough

Album: Loretta Lynn - Still Woman Enough

Age does not wither - country music's golden oldie still has what it takes

Hillbilly pioneer, country queen

Last month Willie Nelson wowed us with a new album. Now comes Loretta Lynn, a year older (89 next month) with her 50th studio outing. It must be something in that proud Cherokee blood they share.

Born in poverty, married at 13. Four children and several miscarriages by 21, twins a decade later. A grandmother at 34. And of course, the hard-drinking, unfaithful husband to whom she was married for 50 years... Lynn’s story is a country classic, and like Dolly Parton she’s told it memorably in song, the hard-scrabble Kentucky childhood laid bare in “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, the song which would later provide the title for a biopic starring Sissy Spacek. (The 1971 album Coal Miner's Daughter has been re-released on vinyl to mark the anniversary.)

She’s paid her dues, growing up at a time when country music was regarded as crass and conservative, no matter that its muddy boots had trampled the charts as rockabilly. “They called me hillbilly but I got the last laugh” she sings on the title track of Still Woman Enough and no one could deny that: “I wasn’t raised to give up.” The album finds her revisiting some of her own back catalogue, including her 1960 debut single “I’m a Honky-Tonk Girl” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” – in which she’s so much less polite to the other woman than Dolly Parton is with that floozie “Jolene”! There’s also a recitation of “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, over a gently-picked banjo, the accompanying sepia-toned video filmed at a replica of the old Butcher Hollow homestead on her rambling Tennessee ranch. There’s some first-rate picking and heart-rending harmonies.

The 13 songs were laid down at Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, produced by Patsy Lynn Russell, the daughter she named after friend and mentor Patsy Cline, and John Carter Cash, the youngest of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s children who also plays guitar. Lynn is joined by Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Suzi Ragsdale, Margo Price and Tanya Tucker – “girls”, as she calls them, some young enough to be her great-grandchildren, who owe her so much. So too most women in country music, including the great Dolly.

Despite a stroke a couple of years back, Lynn is in sprightly form and, as with Nelson, just listening you’d never guess her age. It’s a nicely-paced set that mixes the sacred and the profane in that time-honoured Nashville tradition. Mosie Lister’s “Where No One Stands Alone”, which Elvis covered, the tent revival sound of “I Saw the Light”, and “I Don’t Feel at Home Any More” (the latter clearly the inspiration for Woody Guthrie’s “I Ain’t Got No Home in the World Any More”) all take us to church. Stephen Foster’s “Old Kentucky Home” is a sweet breeze. And then there’s “One’s On the Way”, a feisty song from the heart but not one of Lynn’s own – Shel Silverstein wrote it. (“The Pill”, her very daring-for-the-time riposte, is not featured. It was one of the songs that made Lynn "an advocate for ordinary women” – but emphatically not a supporter of Women’s Lib.)

Long-time fans of Loretta Lynn will love it and those coming to Still Woman Enough because of “the girls” it features will hopefully be encouraged to explore further. She's still a force to be reckoned with.

Comments

I have been a Loretta fan for many, many, years. Don't Come Home A Drinken. was the song that really hit home with my parents. It was the first country album I bought. I was hooked on Loretta and bought all her albums after that. Then, she & Conway. OMG, I love them both I have seen Loretta in concert several times & Conway also but not together.I cried when Conway died, I lost my dream of seeing them together in concert.I cn't wait to get Loretta's latest album..

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