Reviewed by C. Eric Banister
Tribute albums walk a fine line for most listeners. Are they designed to draw fans of the artist singing or the artist being paid tribute? In the case of Eilen Jewell's new album, the answer should be both. It should be said upfront that the problem with many tribute albums is that the tributing artist hews too closely to the source material and there isn't a compelling reason for return listens since they don't differ appreciably from the originals. Fortunately, this is not the case here.
While Jewell sticks closely to the source material, her arrangements and vocal style make them different enough for the album to stand on its own. Her affection for Lynn and her music is evident in the phrasing Jewell adopts on the songs. Jewell also plays it smart by focusing on known and forgotten gems from the range of the late-1960s to early-1970s and by avoiding some of the songs most closely associated with Lynn, namely Coal Miner's Daughter.
The song selection is a great cross-section of songs all written (with the exception of one co-write) by Lynn in one of her most creatively fertile periods. As an Eilen Jewell album, this tribute stands well with other albums in her catalog. As a tribute to Loretta Lynn, Jewell has hit a grand slam and hopefully it will draw more listeners to the back catalog of both artists.