Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose (Interscope)
My initial reaction to Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose is indicative of the sad state of country music today. I was blown fucking away. I was SHOCKED at how good this album is. Why should I be? I mean we’re talking about Loretta Lynn! But anyone with a connection to Nashville today has little to do with the country music I love anymore… anyone except Loretta Lynn and Jack White, country music’s new royal couple.
This is an album of rustic beauty. The production is what you’d expect from Jack White; stark, simple, roomy. There’s the distinct rumbling and buzz of old beat up amps in several tracks, something any Name producer would edit right out (and that’s assuming anyone would ALLOW a noisy amp in the studio to begin with). But Jack White understands what people like me love about good rock and roll and those rules apply to good country. We like it raw and real. We like to think these folks just sat down and played their songs and if a tape machine was rolling, then all-the-better.
This is the first album in years on which Lynn pens all the songs. Maybe it took her husband of 48 years dying to bring out the emotion, or maybe she just decided she had a great batch of songs to share. Whatever it was, God bless Loretta Lynn. The range of emotion is inspiring. From the loss of “Miss Being Mrs.” To the madness that raw lust elicits in “Portland, Oregon.”
Perhaps experience gives us all perspective and a handle on our emotions and the credit for the songwriting and performance of this album goes to Loretta, but it’s taken a young buck from Detroit to capture it in it’s rawest form. White’s dedication to classic recordings has made the White Stripes the saviors of rock and roll, well now he’s saved another genre.
Stupid asses on bulletin boards everywhere are speculating on whether Jack’s giving it to the Coal Miner’s Daughter, and if he is he’s the luckiest man on the mountain. I hope they are very happy together.
You can hear a few of these songs for yourself with the Loretta Lynn ecard.
29 thoughts on “Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose”
I’ve been looking forward to hearing this since it was released, as I’ve read some other positive things about it. This review will cause me to pick it up tonight.
Say what you will about Jack White, the dude has more talent, taste, and cred for his age than anyone I can think of.
I can’t recommend this album highly enough. I love it.
Great review, DK. Great description of the amps. Maybe this one will bring that sweet organic studio sound back in vogue. Some producers are doing it. Chris Stamey’s production on the Caitlin Cary CDs, I really liked, I thought it was really warm.
Like Adam, I’m gonna run out and grab this record as soon as I can. I got a feeling my whole family is gonna agree on this one, from my grandma on down!
Gillian Welch’s last album is great like this too. Excellent, loose production that lets the songs just do what they do.
Veteran country songstress Loretta Lynn enjoys her highest-charting album ever on The Billboard 200, entering at No. 24 with Interscope’s “Van Lear Rose.” The Jack White-produced album debuts 18 spots above her previous peak, attained in 1993 by “Honky Tonky Angels.” With 37,000 copies sold in its first week, “Van Lear Rose” is already closing in on Lynn’s previous album’s sales total, as 2000’s “Still Country” (Audium) sold just 3,000 in its first week and 85,000 copies to date.
what I wanna know is what other country folks might be rediscovered?
I’ve listened to this three time nows. It’s really a beautiful album. I hope it continues to sell like crazy. Loretta deserves it.
Inspiring review, Derek.
This album is surprisingly amazing the “mercy” and the “mountain” songs are my absolute favorites I was actually dancing, not just tapping my feet…my mother listened to Lynn when I was younger and I always thought Lynn was married to Johnny Cash…I am not a country fan, but this will definitely be added to my collection…she puts Twain to shame…Yee Haw!! Sorry, couldn’t resist the cliché.
Quit dancing around the bush, Derek: did you like the album or what?
Ha ha, I kill me. Seriously, this is a big relief. I’ve been very interested in this since I first heard Jack White was slated to produce it. I had high hopes – glad to hear I won’t be disapointed.
Anyone found any chill inducing moments on this record yet?
For further reading:
With all the buzz around it, i’m definitely going to have to give the album a listen.
I have to say thanks to everyone of you you are right this cd is alsome This is the LORETTA MUSIC we all have been waiting for it just took Jack and LORETTA togather to record and get it right, LORETTA paid for the whole cd up front out of her pocket thats how much she believe in the music and in Jack. LORETTA has been qutoed as saying I just wanted to record the music I always wanted to do and at this point it cant break me so why not and Jack helped me do just that this thing is countier then I am lol the cd hit #2 in the country charts and entered billboard at #24 the highest debte ranking LORETTA has ever had in 44 years of recording this cd better win album of the year lol and maybe a nod for LORETTA in the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame Thanks Jack for Producing this alsome cd for the queen of COUNTRY
as always for LORETTA…High On A Mountain Top..
i think it’s funny that buzzing amps somehow convey authenticity given that all of loretta’s classic recordings were slick, clean-sounding production jobs. lynn has said she was shocked when white only wanted one take; she’d never recorded like that before. isn’t the “raw and real” quality of old amps just part of a retro illusion, a clever trick to convey grunginess that’s no different from editing and mixing and using fancy equipment?
Um no, because like I said in the review, you get the feeling that the musicians just sat down in a room and played. Fast and dirty, just the way I like it.
Regardless of the prodcution style Lynn has used in the past, this album conveys an earthy and looser feel and that production style enhances the songs, much like what Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash (who was no stranger to slick or poor production himself) on the American Recordings.
Loretta TEARS it up on “Mrs. Leroy Brown”!
“the musicians just sat down in a room and played”
my point is that these musicians are so practiced at this one-take, off-the-cuff recording method, that it could hardly be characterized as “loose.” “studied” would be more apt. it’s a rehearsed nonchalance that may give the impression of earthiness, but in fact requires more precision from the performers than relying on post-production editing. none of which is to say that there’s anything *wrong* with this method — in fact, i think “van lear rose” is a great record … i just think the notion that these “dirty” garage rockers are somehow more emotionally direct is a little misguided.
Then I guess the Funk Bros. and all those other Motown session musicians are not as “emotionally direct” either.
Practiced or not, a good performance, when captured, makes for emotionally direct music. That’s my point.
The point of my comment was not to suggest that any particular musician or musicians lack emotional directness. The point was to examine the ethos of the amps-buzzing, one-take recording style. It’s often cited as a hallmark of “authenticity” … why? On one hand, they’re such calculated moves, on the other, they *do* give the sound a rough-around-the-edges quality. I guess it’s just one of those contradictions that makes the music interesting.
Alleluia! This album kicks ass in so many ways. In the same way Daniel Lanois brought out the essence of Emmy Lou Harris, Jack White has unveiled the best side of Loretta Lynn and re-introduced her to the world (maybe even a nice reminder to herself).
Nashville record company slobs, take note…. then again, don’t. You can keep putting out your formulized, stone-washed, Barbie soft-rock. We’ll be glad to place this rebel queen high on her rightful throne.
When I first heard of this new Loretta Lynn album “Van Lear Rose” I thought it was just another comeback attempt of a has been country star. I was so wrong. Loretta Lynn and Jack White, you are a musical marriage made in heaven! I should have known better than to ever under estimate Loretta Lynn.
This is the BEST country music CD I’ve ever heard :-) It takes you back in time. This brought smiles to my face right away. It made me laugh at times. You feel just about every emotion as you listen through the whole CD. It’s the 1st country CD I’ve bought in my 43 years on the planet even though I have fond memories of listening to and watching country music growing up. My Mom was a BIG fan of Loretta and I just know she’s smiling in Heaven as I play it over and over. I just can’t stop playing this one, it’s been every day for the past 3-4 weeks. Thank you some much for the music Loretta and Jack and the rest of the “Do-whaters” :-) Great review too!
I read the review in the newspaper and went to buy it the next day. This is an excellent hurtin’ Country album since Johnny Cash hooked up with Rick Rubin. I don’t listen to the bubble GUm Country these days ans always go back to the traditional artists. I’m now looking forward to listening to the White Stripes album. Thank you Loretti (& Jack).
Love it, Love it, Love it!!!!
Right now, this is all I listen to. I am not a huge country fan but I heard that Jack White (love the White Stripes!) produced this so I had to give it a shot. Was I blown away! Loretta’s voice sounds so young and the music just kicks ass. It’s like Jack breathed new life into Loretta. He really showcases her voice and writing. Even though he was involved with this whole thing it’s totally Loretta’s album. This is the type of music that should be playing on every station and should be winning the music awards not that hip hop crap!!!
Absolutely the most awesome CD I’ve heard. It has single handedly rekindled my faith in the classic foundation of country and the vibrant future of rock. Loretta is the woman! She and Jack have opened my heart again. Glory!!
Loretta Lynn True Artist
Jack White True Artist
Some people have the gift, and they are two that do. A perfect combination. Because of Jack White, who gave us all a fabulous breath of fresh pure delicious music air, I listened to one song “Portland, Oregon” and loved. Have alwyas liked Loretta, and Patsy too. This pair gives me chills.
Well, I’m posting this a bit late I realize, but I bought the album back in April and have played, replayed, and loved every minute of it since then. I truly love each song on the album so it’s hard to even talk in terms of favorites but I think if a gun were to my head, I’d have to say my favorites were Van Lear Rose, Portland, Oregon, Family Tree, Mrs. Leroy Brown, High on a Mountain Top, and Miss Being Mrs. Well, that was basically half the album, but it’s that good that “favorites” means half the album!
As far as awe-inspiring moments, or something like that that somebody above asked about, I cannot stress enough how much I love Family Tree. When she says “No, I didn’t come to fight – if he were a better man I might” she just conveys so much emotion, you really understand and empathize with this woman. Of course the song is very clever and funny ( I mean we are talking about Loretta Lynn :) but there is also a beautiful, understated sadness. This woman is at the end of her rope, and she has to put everything on the line for this man who is not even really worth a fight, and she knows he isn’t. It’s so painful and so beautiful. Thankyou, Loretta and Jack.
True to the roots of country music. The pairing is unusual but it’s almost like a moher and son sharing their most intimate secrets. I was on a Billboard Chart last week and saw Lorreta Lynn on it and thought it was a MISTAKE! Like it was some error but their was all the contemporary artist on their too so it couldn’t be wrong and sure enough Loretta was on a current chart! I had to check it out and now I place this alongside some of my other favorite REAL C&W artist like Dwight Yaokum, Randy Travis and Johnny Cash.
Loretta is the undiisputed all time Queen of country, and as a whole this is her finest album ever, thank you loretta and jack, and congrats on being up for 5 Grammys Loretta!
Loretta has done it with the help of Jack white I really waited to buy this album, I have been a Loretta fan for years, but I am from Mississippi,go figure. But know the whole world knows how great she is. Those Nashville people should be hiding thier faces in shame and disgrace, they wrote Loretta off almost 20 years ago, she was dropped from MCA records and quickly put in the Hall of Fame, out to pasture, well Loretta is over the fence and off running with this one.