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Album Review: Still Woman Enough (March 19, 2021) – Loretta Lynn

By Evan Cardinal, Albright '21

Mar 26, 2021

The Context – From humble beginnings as a coal miner’s daughter in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn (née Webb) evolved into a Nashville mainstay and Americana icon. Moreover, Lynn is a woman revolutionary as her strong-willed and provocative music paved way for the likes of Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Kelsea Ballerini to excel in country music today. Songs like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Pill,” “Rated X,” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” thrusted independent feminism into a stringently conservative, patriarchal country music industry of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Nearing her 89th birthday, Lynn is still thriving despite suffering health setbacks in 2017 and 2018. Albeit ending her touring schedule, the coal miner’s daughter continues to make music as Lynn’s latest LP Still Woman Enough incredibly marks her 50th studio record. The timeless country singer naturally has earned critical acclaim for her grand impact as Lynn—the most awarded female country recording artist—holds an astonishing 18 GRAMMY noms (three wins), 24 number 1 hit singles, and 11 number one albums over her 60-plus year career.

The Content – Punchy, yet calm and intellectual fisticuffs start album number 50 with the self-titled track “Still Woman Enough.” Contemporary powerhouses in McEntire and Underwood join forces with the legendary Lynn on the empowering, guitar-picking opener. Popularized by The Carter Family in 1928 and revitalized in the 2000 Coen brother film O Brother Where Art Thou?, “Keep On The Sunny Side” is a pleasant folk rendition from Lynn. “Honky Tonk Girl” is a remastered version of Lynn’s 1960 debut single “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”—a track inspired by a downtrodden Washington-state divorcee that still retains the originality of the Bakersfield Sound. Lynn recreates a traditional folk song—again popularized by The Carter Family—in the unusually upbeat, death-oriented song “I Don’t Feel At Home Anymore.”

Taking some creative license from Stephen Foster’s 1863 classic “My Old Kentucky Home,” Lynn delivers a fresh rendition of the controversial minstrel song (yet often lauded for antislavery lyricism). Lynn takes on the role of a seasoned storyteller in her sentimental, poetic recitation of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” paired well with plucked banjo strums. Singer-songwriter Margo Price duets with Lynn on the Shel Silverstein-written “One’s On The Way” (1971) that captures the humorous critique of high-society feminism today. Another 1971 feminist track in “I Wanna Be Free” reappears strongly on Still Woman Enough.

Lynn taps into her former rocking contemporary, Elvis Presley, in her melancholic, impassionate cover of the ballad “Where No One Stands Alone.” The country singer returns to the folk roots with her lovingly take on the traditional, Carter Family staple “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight.” Hank Williams’ 1948 hit “I Saw The Light” takes on a lively reboot courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry great. Originally released in the 1960s, “My Love” is another endearing ballad rivalling the likes of “Where No One Stands Alone.” 70s/80s country outlaw Tanya Tucker accompanies Lynn on the remake of the coal miner’s daughter’s 1966 classic (and cheeky reference to the title of the LP) “You Ain’t Woman Enough” to conclude the record.

The Skinny – The novelty of the latest Loretta Lynn Still Woman Enough is not in the incredible age-centric feat for the soon-to-be 89-year-old. Rather, the true exceptional feature is the liveliness Lynn and company breathe into her and others’ classics through crisp production and musical storytelling. The living legend of Lynn unveils new tracks like the eponymous opening smash along with fine remasterings that typically arise posthumously for other music greats. Fortunately, Loretta Lynn can paint her sonic mosaic in the flesh with Still Woman Enough—all the while living up to the age-old title in the fullest.

The Rating – 7.1/10

Still Woman Enough

  1. Still Woman Enough (feat. Reba McEntire & Carrie Underwood)
  2. Keep On The Sunny Side
  3. Honky Tonk Girl
  4. I Don’t Feel At Home Anymore
  5. Old Kentucky Home
  6. Coal Miner’s Daughter (Recitation)
  7. One’s On The Way (feat. Margo Price)
  8. I Wanna Be Free
  9. Where No One Stands Alone
  10. I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight
  11. I Saw The Light
  12. My Love
  13. You Ain’t Woman Enough (feat. Tanya Tucker)

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