Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Loretta Lynn shows no signs of slowing down at 83. "Full Circle" is her first album since her extremely well-received Jack White-produced "Van Lear Rose," a 2004 masterpiece. Some of the 14 songs on "Full Circle" are new recordings, while a few ("Fist City," "Secret Love" and "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven") are new versions. Others are old songs ("Black Jack David, "Always On My Mind," "In the Pines") that Lynn simply chose to cut in what is a look into musical life of Lynn.
Lynn's daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, and John Carter Cash, son of Johnny and June and for whom Lynn babysat when June was on stage, co-produced at the famed Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tenn. Much praise is due them for leaving the emphasis on Lynn. That's obvious on "Secret Love" (from 1967's "Singin' With Feelin'") where Tony Harrell's piano comes through time and again, and Lynn pushes it vocally. The lead-off song (after a spoken introductory explanation) is "Whispering Sea," the first song Lynn ever wrote - almost 60 years ago. A.P. Carter's "I Never Will Marry" features only Lynn, Randy Scruggs on acoustic and Will Smith on autoharp. Plain, simple, unvarnished, except for Lynn's singing.
Lynn and Todd Snider wrote "Everything It Takes," the single featuring an understated Elvis Costello. Lynn dominates with Robby Turner's pedal steel underneath as it often is throughout the disc.
The instrumentation tends to be on the simple side, spare, often acoustic, letting the vocals speak volumes. If you're looking for lots of fiddle, mandolin and pedal steel, they are all here in spades.
A portion of the songs deal with death, including the closing "Lay Me Down," with spot on help from Willie Nelson, a lively, piano driven reprise of "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" and "Who's Gonna Miss Me?" On the latter, Lynn's sturdily sings "If I could do one good thing/Then it won't be all in vain/Who's gonna miss me when I'm gone." With performances like this there where there is a plethora of things, Lynn would be missed. But it doesn't seem like Lynn's going anyplace. There is more to come, and that's a good thing because Lynn reaffirms years later and once again that there is plenty of excellent music left in her.