Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not-so-Celtic Corner: Coal Miner's Daughter

The new Loretta Lynn tribute album Coal Miner's Daughter is definitely a good tribute album, but it could be better.

I'm no Gretchen Wilson fan; really, I find her excruciatingly annoying, but her song "When I Think About Cheating" reminded me of a classic traditional song that very well could've been sung by Tammy Wynette or Tanya Tucker. And her rendition of "Don't Come Home A'Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)" stuck to the same sound and fits in with Miss Wilson's classy repertoire. But in all seriousness, it is a great cover.

For some reason Lee Ann Womack does nothing for me anymore. Maybe it was her pregnancy that changed her voice, or maybe she's just taken to the soft, ghostly whispering moans as a fun alternative to singing her songs. She used to be one of my favorites, but her voice no longer fits the music she's singing. Her songs are traditional sounds, but her voice is Sarah McLachlan-like in its presence.

The White Stripes, who I had no idea still existed as a duo, cover "Rated X" (of course...), and it's AWESOME! I'm not too much of a White Stripes fan, but I enjoy them nonetheless. And this is quite an enjoyable cover of the song. Jack White has grown on me since his dedication to Loretta and roots music. Not many musicians nod or respect their musical ancestors, but the White Stripes do. The sounds of the White Stripes' "Rated X" fit well with the song's lyrics, like a 60's or 70's classic rock tune, much like the Steve Miller Band, which would definitely fit a song of this nature.

I'm not a Carrie Underwood fan anymore. I find that she doesn't use her powerful voice well. Often she's just yelling in her songs, even in songs that should be sung softly. But Carrie Underwood's "You're Looking at Country" is executed with class and infused with voices of the Ryman Auditorium's most beloved artists. If Carrie can continue this sort of music and this style of voice, she can be loved by me again. It's a privilege to be loved by me, by the way.

Martina McBride and Alan Jackson's "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" is just as wonderfully fun and powerful as the original with Conway Twitty. Martina and Alan go together perfectly to recreate the classic duo that once took the Country scene by storm and caused a controversy with a suspected affair. The magic has been recreated in my favorite Loretta duet that no one will ever sing with me in karaoke.

When I first heard Paramore's version of "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" I thought, Wow, this sounds like it was recorded in my shower, but it turns out that doesn't matter because it was great. It reminded me of Rachel Proctor's voice, completely with a rough Martina sound with some jiggles intertwined and a rock injection. The solo rhythm acoustic guitar worked out best for the song, I think, to recreate the natural mountain vibe.

Surprisingly Faith Hill's "Love is the Foundation" is a traditional-sounding song, and rightfully so. Every once in a while she'll return to her pure Country roots, and with each one, I find that I love them more than the others, though her songs are typically good, even great, even if their sounds are a bit off. This definitely hearkens back to Faith's 90's music. She needs to do a full-fledged traditional album.

Steve Earle and Allison Moorer sound like they'd be a perfect combo on paper due to their similar musical style, but when their voices came together for the classic and beloved "After the Fire is Gone" I felt betrayed and lied to. I love both separately, but this was an absolute mess. Steve was consistently off-beat and off-key and never in sync with Allison. Allison was surely the dominant vocal, and her voice is soothing and bluesy as always, and it could've worked if another more suitable male up to her standards had been singing with her. Maybe Jakob Dylan (whom I recently developed a love for)?

Reba and The Time Jumpers cover "If You're Not Gone Long," and it sure holds up to Loretta' standards. Reba proves herself to yet be a mainstay and a classic vocalist here. Her voice fits right in the song, as if she wrote it and originally sang it. And I'm not a Reba fan.

 Kid Rock? Really? 'Nuff said.

Lucinda Williams sings this in reminiscence of Emmylou Harris, but more slurry and drunken-whore-with-chew-in-her-mouth sounding. I don't mind Lucinda's music, but this really sounded like she had something in her mouth the entire time. Is this Lindsay Lohan in 30 years? (I know Lucinda's not very old at all, but this makes her sound old or at least like a prematurely aged middle-aged woman.)

Lastly Sheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert join Loretta for an updated version of the un-arguably most beloved song of Loretta's "Coal Miner's Daughter." I absolutely love when Sheryl Crow goes Country. She even sounds a bit like a young Loretta. These three recreate the Honky Tonk Angels, and I want more.

While a somewhat eclectic group, I would've loved to have seen some bluegrass or blues versions of Loretta's songs. Her songs are so versatile and adaptable that they can fit any genre. Give me some Rhonda Vincent or Alison Krauss. Some Duffy or Frightened Rabbit or even some sort of traditional world music like Angelique Kidjo or Cara Dillon.

If you've never seen Loretta live, do so now. There's nothing like seeing a legend on stage. Her mere presence is like being in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I. Though the shows are often short and she sometimes forgets lyrics or speeds through, it doesn't seem to matter. I've been to two of her shows, and I've never felt like I deserved more. The world has given us Loretta Lynn, and I've seen her. I've heard her. I've loved her. Long live Loretta!

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