"Why, I've heard people say God cannot be alive / And all the things that people say has to be a lie / When they're down and out and they need a hand / And their very soul's at stake / If they call on Him and just believe / God makes no mistakes"
—from "God Makes No Mistakes"

"The greatest female singer–songwriter of the twentieth century." That's what White Stripes singer Jack White called country music legend Loretta Lynn in a GQ interview. White, who befriended Lynn a few years ago, helped produce her latest album, Van Lear Rose, one of the most critically lauded projects of 2004.

In many ways, this album represents a rebirth of sorts of Lynn. After an auspicious country career throughout the '60s and '70s, she reached her peak when her autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter, was adapted for the big screen. The film was a critical and commercial smash, but Lynn's musical career started waning soon after that as younger, more polished talent started climbing the country music charts.

Lynn never really left the scene, but Van Lear Rose has her back in the limelight again. Some liken the album's unaffected grit to the hipster makeover Johnny Cash enjoyed at the hands of super–producer Rick Rubin. Here's an artist who for a long time settled for the conventionality and gloss of the Nashville country scene, but who's now injecting new blood into her career thanks to White – a figure far removed from the glitz and glamour associated with Grand Ole Opry hobnobbing. But Lynn's renaissance differs from that of the Man in Black in that she's not singing other people's songs. For the first time in her 40–year–plus career, she's written an entire album, and this ownership bleeds through every note she ...

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