Country music legend Loretta Lynn has been known (justifiably) as the “Queen of Country Music” throughout the better part of her professional career. That is because the music that she has crafted has remained some of the genre’s most memorable work. This past March, Lynn continued to solidify her place in the echelons of country music when she released her new record, Still Woman Enough. The 13-song compilation culls takes on some of her own songs along with covers of some other equally memorable songs with her own touch on the songs. Those songs and their performances are the most important of the collection’s presentation. One of the most notable of the songs is her new original song and title track, which opens the record. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter (Recitation)’ is another standout addition to the record. It will be discussed a little later. Lynn’s take on ‘I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight’ is yet another example of what makes this collection worth hearing. It will be discussed later, too. All three presentations are important in their own right to the whole of this compilation. When then are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes this song more proof of why Loretta Lynn remains to this day, the one and only Queen of Country Music.
Loretta Lynn’s recently released compilation record, Still Woman Enough is an impressive new presentation from the Queen of Country Music that will appeal widely to country music purists. The originals and covers alike more than support those statements. The most notable of the originals is the album’s title track/opener. The song, which features guest appearances from two other well-known country music figures – Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood – is a sequel of sorts to her timeless song, ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough.’ In the case of this song though, it is a reaffirmation of a woman’s strength and femininity to handle any situation in life. This is nothing new for Lynn, who really has made a career of being a self-confident woman on and off stage. She sings here alongside McEntire and Underwood, “The Earth may come and go/But for me it’s just time/’Cause without a doubt I know/It ain’t your age/It’s a state of mind/I’m still woman enough/Still got what it takes inside/I know how to love/Lose and survive/Ain’t much I ain’t see/I ain’t tried/I’ve been nknocked down/But never out of the fight/I’m strong but I’m tender/Wise but I’m tough/And when it comes to love/Let me tell you/I’m still woman enough.” That verse alone (the song’s second verse) is example enough as to the song’s strength. When it is paired with the rest of the song’s lyrical content, the whole makes the song a solid start for the collection and more proof of why Lynn remains country music royalty.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Still Woman Enough’ is engaging and entertaining in its own right. That goes without saying. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out. The musical arrangement that accompanies the lyrical theme adds to the song’s enjoyment. The arrangement is a pure classic country style work that one might expect to hear in walking into one of those old honky tonk joints of days gone by. The strong twang from the guitars pairs with the harmonies produced by the teaming of Lynn, McEntire, and Underwood to make the upbeat arrangement even stronger. At the same time, there is also a sense of some modern country added to the mix to make things interesting, too. The positive is that said modern influence is not the pop country sound that has so polluted the country music realm since about the early 2000s. Rather, it still has a balance of vintage influence even in itself. The whole makes this arrangement in whole that much more appealing. When the arrangement is considered with the full confidence in the song’s lyrical theme, the whole makes clear why this song is so important to Lynn’s new album. It is just one of the songs that shows what makes Still Woman Enough worth hearing. Lynn’s updated take on her timeless classic ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ is another key addition to this record.
Lynn’s updated take on ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ is notable because of the dramatic difference between it and its source material. Lynn’s original take of ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ is a happy, upbeat song that really celebrates her parents and the sacrifices that they made so that she and her siblings could have at least something in life, despite their socioeconomic status. Even as sad as the situation was for the family, Lynn’s recollection in the original was so upbeat as she remembers all her family had despite everything. By comparison, the updated take presented in this compilation is the exact opposite. Instead of singing, Lynn opted for a spoken word approach, reading the song’s lyrics over the so subtle backing of a banjo that gently strums the original song’s guitar line. The pairing creates such a bittersweet sense in listeners’ minds by comparison. It is such a beautifully tragic story the way it is told here. Any listener who is not moved by this updated rendition either has no heart or is simply not human. It is that beautiful and powerful. It is just one more of the songs that makes this compilation a strong presentation. Lynn’s cover of the classic T.B. Ransom song ‘I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight’ is one more example of what makes the compilation so enjoyable.
Lynn’s take on ‘I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight’ is just one of so many recorded since Ransom first published the song more than a century ago in 1897. The Original Chuckwagon Gang, The Carter Family, and Kitty Wells are just some of the most notable country music acts to cover the song in that time. It shows the song’s popularity and timelessness. From the sounds crafted through their takes to the richness of Johnny cash’s rendition (yes, even the Man in Black himself has covered the song), every version has maintained the vintage honky tonk sensibility of the original. Lynn’s rendition also maintains that sound and stylistic approach. What makes her version so interesting is the sound of her vocal delivery here. The way in which Lynn delivers the song’s message about getting through a broken relationship exhibits a certain, touching vulnerability from the song’s subject. It is so subtle in comparison to other renditions, but when caught, really proves so powerful. That is especially the case when her delivery is set alongside the equally gentle mandolin and guitar accompaniment. The simplicity in the approach is the epitome of the adage that less is more. When this cover is considered along with the other songs examined here and the rest of the record’s songs, the whole makes the collection overall a presentation that even being just another compilation, a compilation that is actually worth hearing.
Loretta Lynn’s recently released compilation record Still Woman Enough is a presentation that country music purists everywhere will enjoy. That is because of the mix of originals and covers that make up the record’s body. From her new original song that opens the record, to her updated, bittersweet spoken word take of her own song, ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ to her take on ‘I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight’ and more, the record offers audiences much to appreciate. Her renditions stay true to their source material while also giving each work a unique touch of her own from start to end. All three of the songs examined here support those statements. Keeping that in mind, this record continues to show why Lynn is the unquestioned “Queen of Country Music.” Still Woman Enough is available now through Sony Legacy. More information on the collection is available along with all of Lynn’s latest news at:
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