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Loretta Lynn | Wouldn’t It Be Great

Delayed by more than a year, the country legend's 41st album is well worth the wait.

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“It was awful,” Loretta Lynn admitted to me in 2016. “I went right down on my face. My head hit the floor too. I think it might have knocked me out for a few minutes. It really messed me up.” She was describing a fall she had suffered at home two months earlier, forcing her to cancel a handful of shows. But next to what she’s been through since, that mishap probably seems like nothing. In 2017 — about six months after we spoke on her tour bus outside Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry — the country legend suffered a stroke. Then she took another tumble on New Year’s Day and busted a hip. Between one thing and the other, they understandably pushed back the release of this album by more than a year. But even if great isn’t the word she might use to describe the past 18 months, it’s definitely great to have her back in action. And the authentic old-school country of Wouldn’t It Be Great — the 86-year-old Lynn’s 41st album — is certainly worth the wait. The third of five planned discs co-produced by her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and Johnny and June’s son John Carter Cash, the 13-song affair follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, balancing new originals with resurrected classics from her vast catalog. New numbers range from the feisty honky-tonk of Ruby’s Stool and the lovelorn waltz I’m Dying For Someone To Live For to the steel-guitar weeper These Ole Blues, the acoustic murder ballad Lulie Vars and the mountain music of Ain’t No Time to Go. Oldies this time out include timeless hits like Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’, Van Lear Rose‘s God Makes No Mistakes, the folksy title cut and even her signature song Coal Miner’s Daughter. But no matter the vintage, everything sounds like it could have been cut at RCA Studio B on Music Row back in the good old days. For fans of real country music, life doesn’t get much greater than this.