Album + Compilation
Back in the late 1960's, a new girl singer was ruffling feathers in the conservative country music scene. Loretta Lynn, a Kentucky born singer and songwriter who married at 13 and bore four children before she was 18, hit the charts with an unprecedented stream of feminist songs. "You Aint Woman Enough (To Take My Man)", "Dont Come Home A'Drinkin' (with Lovin' On Your Mind)", "Your Squaw Is on the Warpath" and "Fist City" saw Lynn telling it straight with not a little humour and ultimately becoming the first millionaire female country singer. Warming to her subject a few years later, she released "The Pill", confronting the thorny issue of womens sexual freedom, and getting herself banned from country radio in the process.
But parallel to all this hell raisin', Lynn recorded the kind of classic country that would appeal to the traditional fan - from the autobiographical anthem "Coalminer's Daughter" to her CMA Award-winning duets with Conway Twitty.She also recorded three albums of religious and inspirational music for Decca -Hymns, Who Says God Is Dead! and God Bless American Again.
It's the best bits from these albums that make up The Gospel Spirit. It's been repackaged, with photos that remind you of the twin threat of Loretta Lynn -she'soutspoken AND beautiful. The music has been digitally remastered, giving a new crispness to the already lush sounds produced by architect of the Nashville Sound, Owen Bradley. Contributions by Elvis Presley's backing singers The Jordanaires add even more warmth to standards including "The Old Rugged Cross" and "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands".The music is heart-warming throughout, and just the right side of self-righteous.
This will come as good news to the new breed of Loretta Lynn fans, who fell for her after hearing this year's outstanding Van Lear Rose, produced by The White Stripes' Jack White. Like Johnny Cash teaming with Rick Rubin, this rock/country pairing will have brought Lynn a whole new audience, some of whom will be unsure how to approach her extensive back catalogue and may find the time-honoured tradition of country gospel a little daunting.
But whether it's a duet with White like "Portland, Oregon" or the spiritual number "How Great Thou Art", she has always attacked her songs with the same vigour which cannot fail to engage the listener.