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Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose - Interscope Records

Extraordinary songwriting, brilliant production, remarkable performances and a voice that sounds as confident as it did when she debuted 40 years ago in Nashville mark one of the years best albums from a country legend pushing 70 and produced by one of rock’s alternative hot shots. Loretta Lynn’s collaboration with Jack White of the White Stripes, Van Lear Rose, is a collaboration that far exceeds any expectations about the album when it was being produced and recorded and word started circulating in the music world about the project.

There is no denying Lynn’s incredible career – she racked up 13 top ten hits between 1966 and 1970. Her musical partnership with Conway Twitty resulted in five number one songs between 1970-75 followed by another 7 top charting records with Twitty between 1976-81. She has continued recording and touring since 1960 when she released her debut single, “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” and her last studio album was released in 2000 and was produced by Randy Scruggs.

In 1980 Lynn reached a broader mainstream audience through Sissy Spacek’s Academy Award winning portrayal of Lynn in the movie based on her autobiography Coal Miner’s Daughter. Lynn, notable not only for her voice, wrote many of her own songs. Some of the most important songs like “The Pill,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” and “Don’t Come Home-A Drinkin’” were written with a uniquely feminist perspective – unheard of coming from the male dominated country music scene of Nashville during the late 60’s and 70’s when Lynn wrote them.

Ten years ago another country legend Johnny Cash turned to rap-rock producer Rick Rubin for a move that completely revitalized Cash’s career. Daniel Lanois helped reconceive Emmylou Harris’s career. Johnny Winter helped Muddy Waters create Waters’ startling comeback in 1977 with Hard Again. That the Jack Black of the White Stripes wound up working on this incredible record is no surprise – The White Stripes are fans of Lynn’s and have covered her songs. Van Lear Rose may win some fans due to White’s popularity, however, this isn’t a Jack White album – this is clearly a Loretta Lynn record. He stays in the background although you can feel his influence on the record in subtle ways.

Van Lear Rose is one of the most distinctive sounding, unique pop records of the last decade. Rose is unparalled - much like Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind, The Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead, Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball, Radiohead’s OK Computer; The Joshua Tree by U2. Lynn’s songs combined with Jack White’s creative arrangements and humble contributions are honest, bold and compelling. Songs like “Women’s Prison,” “This Old House,” “Trouble On The Line,” “Miss Being Mrs.” and the absolutely incredible “Portland, Oregon” take the listener to a enduring place that pop records these days rarely take listeners.

Written by Bruce Warren

Release Date: 4/27/2004

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