It’s a brace of golden anniversaries for Loretta Lynn – her 50th album arrives 50 years after her most celebrated one, Coal Miner’s Daughter – and her first recording since recovering from a 2017 stroke feels like a gentle victory lap. With just one new song – the title track, a gutsy bawler with Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood – the rest is a spirited if not subversive amble through her back catalogue and some old-time country classics. Coal Miner’s Daughter (which also appeared on 2018’s Wouldn’t It Be Great) becomes an emotional recitation, while her 1960 first single, I’m a Honky Tonk Girl, is given a bright, warm polish, with the benefit of six decades of oak in the voice. Rootsy but professional takes on the Carter Family’s Keep on the Sunny Side and Hank Williams’s I Saw the Light, meanwhile, are pure and joyous, while a sentimental, autoharp-spangled waltz through TB Ransom’s I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight brings a melancholy as sweet and keen as if you’d just been chucked yesterday to the 142-year-old ballad.
It’s the collaborations that make it, though: a dust-up with Tanya Tucker on 1966’s You Ain’t Woman Enough, and a duet with Margo Price (who called her 2016 debut Midwest Farmer’s Daughter) on 1971’s One’s on the Way, in which a harried Topeka woman reflects on how “the girls in New York City, they all march for women’s lib” as children bawl and the housework piles up. It’s a lightly satirical delight.