Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose is finally being released on vinyl from Third Man Records (TMR-063) and gives fans of both Lynn and Jack White something to look forward to, and for those who still don’t believe vinyl sounds better than digital…this record will change your mind.
The album won two Grammies and catapulted Loretta Lynn back into the hearts and minds of music lovers with her album that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Best known by earlier generations as a small-town-country-girl-come-to-the-big-city, she talked-the-talk but really walked-the-walk as a teen bride and mother who struggled to bring her stories and experiences all the way from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky to Nashville.
Jack White – best known as one-half of the White Stripes – fans were introduced to country music, perhaps for the first time, and its impact and storytelling style. The collaboration resulted in Best Country Album as well as Best Country Collaboration with Vocal for the single “Portland, Oregon” in 2005 and Jack White suddenly wasn’t just “the eccentric guy who wears red pants” but the go-to producer who had the resources and the chops to draw out the best in seasoned performers.
The album takes Loretta Lynn, known for her rough edges and frankness in telling the whole dirty story, and wrangles hard-biting songs and serves them in a crystal glass. “Little Red Shoes” is the perfect example of the intimacy Loretta shares with her audience, telling the tale of how her parents couldn’t afford shoes even as she was surely dying and stole them from a five-and-dime. As if speaking to a small group at a dinner party Loretta tells us the good, the bad, and the ugly of this time in her life and manages to smile through it all.
The vinyl release has been mastered from the original analog masters and pressed on 180-gram vinyl. The vinyl sound is amazing, a full and warm sound that envelopes Loretta’s voice and pushes it out to every corner of the room. Mastering for vinyl is a key step sometimes overlooked (ahem, Avett Brothers) but the result is a recording that rivals a live performance in its fullness and moving quality.
Third Man continues its tradition of sending collectors scrambling by pressing/releasing on standard black vinyl, but also a special blue-vinyl edition of 300; 100 of these will be available at Third Man records in Nashville on August 9, the availability/placement of the remaining 200 has not been yet made public.
If you are still on the fence about vinyl, use this release an excuse to jump down on the vinyl side…the digital version is good, damn good, but the vinyl version blows it away.
Vinyl version reviewed on a Thorens TD 145 table with a Shelter 201 cartridge.
By Meredith Underhill