Loretta Lynn: Full Circle (Sony)

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Loretta Lynn: Whispering Sea
Loretta Lynn: Full Circle (Sony)

Opening this album of old originals, standards and duets with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello, we hear Lynn speaking about – then singing – the first song she ever wrote, the lovely Pacific-flavoured country ballad Whispering Sea.

Thereafter between standards (the always delightful Secret Love, a strong Always on My Mind, In the Pines, a lightly stepping honky-tonk Band of Gold) she makes assured revisits to her extensive back-catalogue, among them her tough talkin' Fist City where she takes on a rival for her husband's affections. (He picks up trash, she says).

It's been 12 years since the excellent Van Lear Rose produced by Jack White, and here producers John Carter Cash (Johnny's son) and one of her daughters Pasty Lynn focus on the undiminished strength of her voice and the simple power of the songs.

Costello wisely takes a back seat on her assertive but hurt Everything It Takes (co-written by Lynn and Todd Snyder) and if the closer Lay Me Down (with Willie) sounds like a resignation – “I'll be at peace when they lay me down” – it's hard to believe this could be the last we hear from this 83-year old country legend.

Remarkable.

There is a travel story-cum-profile of the great Loretta Lynn in our archives here . . . and a recipe from her idiosyncratic cookbook here

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