Van Lear Rose
Ever since Loretta Lynn released her first single 44 years ago, her heart and soul have remained intimately tied to her childhood as a coal miner’s daughter in rural Kentucky. She’s never forgotten who she is and where she came from, never left behind the life lessons she learned growing up in Butcher’s Hollow and watching her father toil in the nearby Van Lear mine.
And, fortunately for us, her latest release lets us know that right from the start. Van Lear Rose begins with the title track, a song that could very well be about her parents, or even Lynn and her husband, Oliver “Doo” Lynn, themselves. In fact, the entire CD, like much of Lynn’s stuff from her heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, is direct, honest and powerful, so much so that we can almost see what she sees, feel what she feels, live what she lived.
Some of the credit must be given to producer Jack White, who took a break from the White Stripes to help create a passionate statement by an American legend. The CD’s sound is full and rich without being cluttered and confusing.
But in the end, the CD is Loretta’s and Loretta’s alone. Her gutsy vocals have faded little since she belted out groundbreaking feminist anthems four decades ago. She displays her versatility by showing subtle anguish on “Miss Being Mrs.” (which could very well be dedicated to Doo, who passed in 1996) and raucous rave-up on “Mrs. Leroy Brown.”
The CD is, quite simply, a triumphant statement by a living legend. Perhaps more than any artist in country-music history, Loretta Lynn’s been able to both rise above and remember her humble beginnings, and Van Lear Rose is a triumphant statement by a woman who in many ways has no peer.