Various Artists, 'Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn'
Reverence, or at least too much of it, is often the death knell for tribute albums. If a legend’s legacy looms too large, artists err on the side of homage instead of interpretation. That’s the obvious problem with this salute to country icon Loretta Lynn, which cherry-picks from her 50-year career with an emphasis on songs she either wrote or co-wrote. From Carrie Underwood (“You’re Lookin’ at Country’’) to Paramore [“You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)’’], too many of the musicians pay their respects without adding anything interesting to the songs. Sometimes they don’t need to: Alan Jackson and Martina McBride have fun with “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,’’ faithfully resurrecting the feisty charm Lynn shared with Conway Twitty. Lucinda Williams sounds like she took a swig of whiskey before burrowing into “Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight).’’ The White Stripes, longtime Lynn disciples, find the heart of “Rated X’’ with just an acoustic guitar, tambourine, and cardboard box. But it’s Reba McEntire, backed by the Time Jumpers, who transforms an overlooked gem, “If You’re Not Gone Too Long,’’ into a buoyant slice of Western swing. It’s the best of both worlds: a little Loretta, a lot of Reba. (Out tomorrow) JAMES REED
ESSENTIAL “If You’re Not Gone Too Long’’