Still Woman Enough
A Lesson in Maturity, Grace and Strength on Loretta’s 50th Album
Bearing the same name as her 2002 memoir, 88 year old Loretta Lynn’s latest release shows she is still anxious to prove herself. The material on the album contains little new in the way of composition – retakes of some of her own songs, covers of Classic Country tunes and collaborations with fellow artistes from across the span of her career are the order of the day here.
“Still Woman Enough” which opens the album, features backing from Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood – but there’s a strength and sensitive toughness in Lynn’s delivery which is ably assisted by her co-singers.
Bookending the album is the similarly titled, but older Lynn song “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and they seek to frame an album that is statement of feminist/feminine strength.
The musical backing throughout is no frills straight up classic country – honky tonk piano, fiddle, pedal steel and guitar make up the majority of what’s on offer – and that’s exactly how it should be.
Amongst the covers on offer there’s “Keep on The Sunny Side” which is a fairly straight rendition of the Carter family classic; “I Saw the Light” adds a shuffling snare drum ‘train beat’ to the Hank Williams song and “I Don’t Feel at Home Anymore” strips back the often used musical gospel setting of the song, to make it more of a personal sentiment.
Highlights for me are in the less predictable choices on the album – Lynn’s duet with Margo Price on Lynn’s 1971 hit “One’s On The Way” is the sound of the old guard and the new guard in full force in vocal and emotional harmony; and singing on issues which makes them thematically inseparable.
“Where No-One Stands Alone” attains a kind of world-weary gravity that was present on later Ralph Stanley recordings – there’s a mixture of power and resignation that’s very emotionally charging.
“I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight” occupies similar ground, – maybe even more affecting – but in waltz time.
“Coal Miner’s Daughter” is the most radical re-working – it’s now a sparse Southern voiced narration over a banjo soundscape drawn from the perspective of age.
Even approaching her nineties, Loretta Lynn is showing that artistic creativity needn’t be diminished.
The Loretta Lynn on this album develops a lesson in maturity, grace and strength – knowing her strengths, using them wisely – and adapting a changing (physical and metaphorical) voice to the material can produce beautiful work – and that’s what the Queen of Butcher Hollow is still doing – and long may she continue to do so.
Review by Nick Barber
Released 19th March 2021
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UK & Europe https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-Woman-Enough-Loretta-Lynn/dp/B08R27YVYP/ref=tmm_acd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1616190127&sr=1-1