Timely and timeless
Loretta Lynn has been making music for decades. Wouldn’t It Be Great? Is her forty-fifth studio album, and Lynn returns with the same kind of vibrant energy and honky-tonk feeling she does well. The album is a combination of brand new songs and new recordings of her previous songs.
Whether or not you are familiar with Lynn, her music feels familiar. The easy two-four of a country ballad and its accompanying acoustic guitars and light piano feel like walking down an old known road. Lynn’s iconic drawl and warm croon make the album feel unbound, as comfortable now as then. Lynn capitalizes on this feeling with sentimental lyrics. The album’s titular song is a re-recording of one of Lynn’s songs from 1985. She updates the song with lush instrumentation that undulates around her lamentation of a love lost to alcohol. She never slips into sarcasm but sings with earnest maturity.
Each song follows a similar pattern of swells and lulls that never peak too high or fall too low. “Another Bridge to Burn” begins with a fiddle solo until the song slowly escalates to the chorus where she admits, “you’re another bridge it’s time to burn.” The chorus rolls over the instruments until the song ends where it began.
“Ain’t No Time to Go” follows the same pattern, starting out slow and quiet until it picks up tempo and instrumentals. The song is about renewal and departure as she looks to the “spring…just around the bend.” The song tracks the pattern as it builds, and ends with Lynn’s voice alone, imploring, “ain’t no time to go, darlin’.” The pattern feels cathartic, acknowledging the necessity of gain and loss that Lynn is so interested in on this album.
“My Angel Mother” is another fresh rerecording of her earlier work. The song starts with an acoustic guitar tinged with just a hint of sadness as Lynn sings “about a girl that I know” who is “just as pure as all silver and gold.” It’s a touching dedication to her mother—who Lynn sings about in the present tense—with a recognition that time continues to pass; “I’d never find/ no one to take the place of this mother of mine.”
Above all else though, Lynn’s feeling is tempered, and enhanced, by her acknowledgment of change. With the spring comes the knowledge of another winter. In “Darkest Day,” she sings, “today is the darkest day of my life,” but even then knows, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” Throughout the album, Lynn’s sentimentality then emerges not as nostalgia, but as an appreciation for some kind of constant.