Music

Review: 'Wouldn't It Be Great' Magnifies Loretta Lynn's Sensitive Side

The rags-to-riches tale of the song "Coal Miner's Daughter" and the defiant sneer of "Don't Come Home a' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)" drive the usual narrative about Loretta Lynn's lasting appeal. While those songs tell the true story of the singer's survival of Butcher Hollow, Ky. and her sometimes turbulent marriage to the late Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn, respectively, she's always done more than write and sing about herself. Like a great country singer should, Lynn also excels as a song interpreter with the talent to bring a wide range of third-party characters and emotions to life. For prime examples of her skill as a world-building storyteller, look no further than her brand-new album Wouldn't It Be Great, out Sept. 28 on Sony/Legacy.

Although the before-mentioned career-defining hits get shiny new coats of paint, most of the songs on this mix of new compositions and re-recorded songs spanning Lynn's career aren't about growing up poor or setting knucklehead men straight.

The somber title track, first heard on the 1985 album Just a Woman, shares the darker side of loving a barfly. "I'm Dying For Someone to Live For," "Darkest Day," "These Ole Blues" and "Another Bridge to Burn" (a Lola Jean Dillon co-write) remind us that there's often a sadder side to the same women prone to cop the attitude heard on "Fist City" or the comparable new album track and Shawn Camp co-write "Ruby's Stool."

A spiritual undercurrent guides other songs, such as the old-timey "Ain't No Time to Go" and "The Big Man" and early career cut "My Angel Mother." They add to Lynn's catalog of gospel-inspired material that includes the 1965 classic Hymns and the more recent "God Makes No Mistakes."

There's still traces of Lynn's sass on an otherwise somber album. For example, the old folk ballad she covers, "Lulie Vars." happens to be one where justice is served for a murdered pregnant woman.

Delayed from its original 2017 release date due to Lynn's recent health scares, the follow-up to 2016's Grammy-nominated Full Circle was recorded at the historic Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tn. by Lynn's daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and a fellow child of country music royalty, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's son John Carter Cash.

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Review: 'Wouldn't It Be Great' Magnifies Loretta Lynn's Sensitive Side