Regardless of opinions about White Stripes leader Jack White's credentials to produce country-music queen Loretta Lynn (he toured with the legendary singer and dedicated 2001's WHITE BLOOD CELLS to her), there's no denying that VAN LEAR ROSE significantly kick-started Lynn's career both commercially and artistically. In a move similar to Rick Rubin's 1990s Johnny Cash productions, White enlists members of his garage-rock cohorts the Greenhornes, along with a couple of country ringers, to back Lynn, giving her the grittiest, most rock-tinged production of her long reign.
Encouraged to come up with an album's worth of original tunes for the very first time, Lynn sounds plucky and full of fire. Her marvelous voice is as powerful and graceful as ever, as the septuagenarian singer gamely leads the band of youngsters through honky-tonk burners, bluegrass-tinged acoustic numbers, and even an evocative spoken-word recitation. Closer in spirit to Lynn's spunky '60s classics than anything she'd released in decades, VAN LEAR ROSE is built to reassemble the faithful and snare some new ears as well.
Rolling Stone (No. 948, p.70) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A] classic Loretta Lynn album. There's no Nashville glitz, no crossover schlock--as the lady used to sing, you're lookin' at country....[Jack White has] helped her make the album we all dreamed she would make."
Rolling Stone (p.146) - Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "[A] one-of-a-kind classic, rootsy but deeply weird..."
Spin (p.105) - "[T]he woman who wrote 'Rated X' and 'The Pill' never worried about finger-waggers. That's why her music still matters today, and why ROSE pricks like a rueful morning after." - Grade: A
Spin (p.67) - Ranked #8 in Spin's "40 Best Albums of the Year" - "VAN LEAR ROSE may be Lynn's greatest album to date - a triumphant steel-and-rhinestones hootenanny."
Q (p.102) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]he effect is nothing short of remarkable....Lynn's strong, womanly tones are absolutely beguiling."
Uncut (pp.84-5) - 5 stars out of 5 - "At times, it's unerringly beautiful and soft. At others, it howls like a blue mountain banshee."
Uncut (p.74) - Ranked #3 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "The songs are all Lynn originals - many of the deeply autobiographical..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.98) - 5 stars out of 5 - "[A] perfect album - typically understated, characteristically jubilant, and 100 per cent Loretta Lynn."