It seems like every five or six years, I run around blabbering about Loretta Lynn like no one’s ever heard of her and I’ve just checked my calendar: it’s that time again. Still Woman Enough, her brand-spankin’ new album of (mostly) revisited Lynn staples, turns out to be another reason for me to yammer my fool head off to anyone who’ll listen. Congratulations: this time it’s you!
You’ll know all but one song—the title tune, a 100% brand new throwdown stomp she wrestles to the barroom floor with Reba and Carrie (McEntire and Underwood … the singers, not the law firm)—though they’re not all songs you only know as Lynn classics. There’s a sweet, traditional “Keep on the Sunny Side” and a couple of other dusted-off standards (“My Old Kentucky Home” and “I Saw the Light”) that sound as clean and clear as they’ve ever sounded in anyone else’s hands.
There are some star-spangled guests as well—the aforementioned Reba and Carrie, as well as Margo Price and Tanya Tucker (both show up sounding like they’ve never been happier to do something in their lives). Everyone who’s anyone wants to sing along with Miss Loretta. I’m doing it right now!
Despite the giddy guest appearances, though, it’s Lynn’s low-key return visit to her most famous song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” that brought me up short. It’s the sort of thing that would make me roll my eyes a little if I just read about it, but hooo-boy (that’s gen-u-ine Loretta Lynn parlance, by the way) is it a killer. She simply recites the famous lyrics against a simple curtain of lightly-plucked banjo; she even de-emphasizes the rhymes, so it comes off like a perfect little two-minute short story and for about ten minutes after it’s over, you’ll swear it’s the best thing you’ve ever heard. It is.