- White Stripes Interview: Meg White interviews her brother Jack for Amazon.co.uk. Read it now.
Loretta's music and lyrics are unavoidably influenced by her extraordinary life. Born into poverty, being married at 13, having four children by the age of 18 and then being the first country female to become a millionaire has shaped Loretta into the artist she is today. This remarkable story was told in her autobiography, A Coal Miner's Daughter, which was made into an Oscar-winning film of the same name.
Lynn has described the album as the most country thing she's done for years. The stripped-back accompaniment (courtesy of White and fellow Detroit native Dave Feeny) may smack more of Led Zeppelin than Chet Atkins but White's genius has been in recognising the connection between Lynn's gritty tales of beleaguered women in a poor patriarchal bible belt and the kind of dirty working class blues and folk that he idolises. Lynn's classic songs such as ''Don't Come Home A'Drinkin''' conformed to the country template of bitter experience, but combined them with the righteous (and witty) fury of a woman scorned. White's convinced her to return to this lost art and all 13 songs are not only self-penned, but quite wonderful.
This doesn't mean that this is a straight three-chord blast á la White Stripes either. Jack manages to coat Loretta's tales of hard-won experience with an ambience that veers from honky tonk to r 'n' b via sleazy batchelor party rock. ''Have Mercy On Me'' has such an air of bump 'n' grind about it you'd swear it came from a lost Russ Meyer film. Loretta's subjects remain as close to her heart as ever. Her narrators have all been dealt a bad hand, but retain the feisty fighting spirit that's kept Lynn herself going through teenage pregnancy, neglect, abuse and more. ''Women's Prison'' is a song sung from behind bars while ''Family Tree'' and ''Mad Mrs Leroy Brown'''s abandoned wives aren't afraid to confront the mistresses who've wrecked their lives. Most touching though is ''Miss Being Mrs'' which is undoubtedly a lament for her deceased husband Oliver.
Van Lear Rose may sound like a radical departure for Lynn, whose place in the Nashville pantheon is as assured as Patsy Cline. Yet strangely it feels more like a return to her roots rather than some trendy attempt to garner a young audience. Lynn herself compares White to her original producer Owen Bradley and she's not far wrong. Somehow he's managed to get this legend to produce a legendary album. Absolutely essential... --Chris Jones
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When I heard that Jack White of The White Stripes was going to produce this album, I was of course surprised. I had no idea Loretta had planned on releasing a new album, and I had no idea it was her who chose Jack to help produce it! The results are amazing nonetheless! Van Lear Rose is a true Country-sounding album with a bit of an edge of rock-n-roll in it. When she sings, she sounds so full of life. And even though a few of the songs are about 2 minutes in length, the listener can easily identify with what the song's talking about and [the listener's] left satisfied hearing that song because it's just THAT good.
Out of the 13 songs all written by Loretta, my top favorite songs off the Van Lear Rose album are "Portland Oregon" (a duet with Jack White), "High On a Mountain Top," the title track "Van Lear Rose," and "Women's Prison." All of the songs are stunning and you'll be listening to them over and over and over again. Loretta teaming up with Jack White proves that even the oddest pairings can always deliver stunning perfection.
This is a very, very decent album and I recommend it to anyone who's a Loretta fan or is just even the slightest bit interested in her music. This is great country music that, I believe, is one of Loretta's best recordings ever.
Loretta plans on making a religous album and Christmas album and is thinking of having Jack White produce those albums as well. Keep your fingers crossed!
Loretta's vocals are so strong - she's 70 years of age! - and the songs are the usual stuff of country music - broken relationships, poverty, desperation, drinking and murder. The more traditional sounding songs with just her voice, guitar, pedal-steel guitar and fiddle are particularly well played and produced. Even two gospel-tinged songs, Have Mercy and High on a Mountain Top, are given highly innovative productions. Little Red Shoes could be described as a kind of country rap - Loretta talking over a dreamy, bluesy riff about her mother buying her a pair of shoes when she was a child. On the track Women's Prison, about her being sent to jail for the murder of her cheating lover, simply listen to the music rise and fall and then finish off in a cacophony of distorted guitar. Revelatory.
Gram Parsons is said to have invented "country rock". Who would have thought that Loretta Lynn would be continuing that tradition in such a raucous fashion more than thirty years later. I'm sure that Johnny Cash would have loved this album. This is as country music can be.
Well,THIS IS IT, folks!The album people will be listening to in 10,20,30,50 years, it's just that good! Read more
Not in my wildest dreams, did I ever consider I’d be reviewing a Loretta Lynn album. Read more