Coal Miner's Daughter - A Tribute To Loretta Lynn
By: Dan MacIntosh
There are number of different ways to look at this Loretta Lynn tribute CD. From one angle, the musical quality of all these Lynn-written songs is impressive; especially when you gather them all together in one place. In fact, Lynn composed seven of the twelve all by her lonesome. However, the irony of having Carrie Underwood sing “You’re Lookin’ at Country” won’t be missed by many. Yet, with such great potential to totally screw it up -- Underwood could have slathered this song in too much unnecessary studio sheen, as she so often does. However, she proves us all wrong by giving one of the best, straight country performances we’ve heard all year long.
But Underwood’s not the only gal that shines particularly brightly. Faith Hill dusts off the inner country girl, well concealed beneath her outer glamour shell, to sing “Love Is the Foundation”, while Paramore’s Hayley Williams smartly sings “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” as if it was always intended to be an acoustic power ballad. Speaking of fighting words, Gretchen Wilson does the best Loretta Lynn vocal imitation with “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”. Reba may have a Western swing album in her somewhere, if her hot-stepping run-through of “If you’re Not Gone Too Long” is any indication.
There aren’t a whole lot of noteworthy boys at this party, as would be expected. Kid Rock rocks out on “I Know How” and Steve Earle duets nicely with his wife, Allison Moorer during “After the Fire Is Gone”. And for someone that has had a studio working relationship with Lynn, Jack White and The White Stripes’ “Rated X” comes off a little flat. Yet what truly makes sparks fly is Alan Jackson and Martina McBrides’ “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man”. McBride has always had a lot of spunk, but she really revs Jackson’s engine up nicely. So while we’re considering fantasy albums, why not pair Jackson and McBride for a full album and see what happens? Far too often, Jackson plays the country Perry Como, so it would be a breath of fresh air to hear him growl a little bit more.
This album’s title track sports Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert and Lynn herself. Perhaps Lambert carries on the Lynn spirit best of all these days. She writes many of her own songs and isn’t afraid to talk tough when she needs to. Lucinda Williams, who gives us “Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight)”, also deserves to be in that torch-carrying conversation. However, she hasn’t been in the crosshairs of the country mainstream for a long while, if at all, and appeals more to alt.country and folk audiences, than to Nashville aficionados. With that said, however, few can sing with a cry in their voice better than Williams, and she’s particularly beautifully weepy on this track.
Sadly, there are too many Carrie Underwoods and Faith Hills – women that seem to care more about singing and looking pretty, than being real – on today’s country radio. Audiences need and deserve more straight shooters like Loretta Lynn. Lynn didn’t rely on any feminist agenda to propel her forward. She already had the fire in her belly to burn brightly and make a lasting impression. Hopefully, this album will give Lynns-in-waiting the courage to speak up. If we every needed Lynn’s spirit, we need it now.
If you prefer to own a CD version of the album you can order it at Amazon.