Picks and Pans Review: Van Lear Rose

UPDATED 05/10/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/10/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

Loretta Lynn

CRITIC'S CHOICE

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She's a 69-year-old country legend and he's a 28-year-old garage-rock poster boy. But Loretta Lynn recruited Jack White of the White Stripes to produce her latest disc. And while White, who contributed five traditional country songs to the Cold Mountain soundtrack, won't make anyone forget Lynn's old producer, Nashville genius Owen Bradley, his unlikely contribution is both respectful and respectable. White doesn't embarrass himself in his duet with Lynn on the wistful "Portland Oregon," and he cowrote two tunes with the singer. Lynn wrote 11 songs herself, including the title track, an elegant salute to Lynn's mother, who was from Van Lear, Ky. "Family Tree" and "This Old House" display Lynn's affection for family tradition, while "God Makes No Mistakes" is a worthy addition to her catalog of Christian music. But "Women's Prison" seems a trifle sociological for her. The smartest track is "Mrs. Leroy Brown," a honky-tonk answer to Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown." After all these years, Lynn still sounds strong, her vaguely reedy voice doing what it has always done best—convey heartfelt emotion.

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