Wouldn't It Be Great
Originally intended for release in 2017, Wouldn't It Be Great was pushed back more than a year after Loretta Lynn suffered a stroke. But the lady from Butcher Hollow has overcome worse—she's survived two of her own children for starters—and now that she's back on the mend, we have a new album, her 41st (!), which pairs a set of new songs with rerecordings of six classics. The energy and clarity with which she renders “Don't Come Home a Drinkin'” and her calling card, “Coal Miner's Daughter,” belie her age (she's 86). The originals, including the honky-tonk of “Ruby's Stool” and the murder ballad “Lulie Vars,” make clear that she's lost none of her expansive range. Given the retrospective track selection, it's hard to ignore the elegiac overtones to this late-career work, but it's never dour or overly reflective. It feels, instead, like a casual, well-earned celebration of her expansive catalog.