83-year-old country/rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson announced her final album Encore will be released on August 20 via Big Machine/Blackheart. She had originally revealed that recording began on it back in 2018, featuring production by Joan Jett.
Jackson shared a lead single from the album called “It Keeps Right On a Hurtin’,” which is a cover of a 1962 hit song by Johnny Tillotson. The legend called the inclusion “a nod to my country roots.” Her version of the single jumps to the opening vocals right at the start, “I cry myself to sleep each night/Wishing I could hold you tight.” She ditches the original’s string arrangement in favor of more traditional country guitar, piano, steel guitar and backing vocalists.
This album announcement comes a couple years after Jackson announced she was officially retiring from performing, in 2019. At that time, a representative stated “This retirement is solely based on health and safety. It has been a wild ride. Thank you all for all the years of continued fandom and support. This is not the end, just the beginning of a new chapter. Join us as we congratulate the Queen of Rockabilly on over six decades of rip roaring live performances, priceless stories and countless shimmies.”
Now, Jackson’s back for an Encore, and she says it’s among the most personal projects she’s ever released. “Right around the time I retired from performing and what I thought was the end of my career, I found myself back to writing songs with some of the great writers in Nashville,” Jackson said. “The songs you hear are truly my life story. This is the first time I have ever inserted so much of my personal life into my music. You’ll get a picture of my early life and have a peek into the closeness that my late husband Wendell and I had in our life together. I’m happy to share this with all of you — your constant love and support has seen me through the ups and downs of my 64-year career.”
Some of those “great writers in Nashville” include Lori McKenna, Will Hoge, Luke Laird and Sonia Leigh. The album also features guest performances by Joan Jett, Elle King, Candi Carpenter and Pistol Annies’ Angaleena Presley.
Jackson’s 64-year career spawned many radio hits, including “In the Middle of a Heartache,” “Let’s Have A Party” and “Right Or Wrong.” She took a break from recording between 1988 and 2003, but came back with a comeback album called Heart Trouble in 2003. Her most recent albums include 2010’s The Party Ain’t Over (produced by Jack White) and 2012’s Unfinished Business (produced by Justin Townes Earle).
2. Two Shots (featuring Elle King and Joan Jett)
3. You Drive Me Wild
4. Good Girl Down (featuring Angaleena Presley and Candi Carpenter)
5. It Keeps Right on a Hurtin’
6. We Gotta Stop
7. Treat Me Like a Lady (featuring Joan Jett)
8. That What Love Is (featuring Joan Jett)