Folk-country singer-songwriter Eilen Jewell goes all-out twang on "Butcher Holler: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn," a collection of a dozen songs by the coal miner's daughter re-recorded by Jewell and her three-piece backing band.
The album - named for Lynn's Kentucky hometown - isn't just a greatest-hits revue. Instead, Jewell pays tribute to Lynn's songwriting by selecting tunes that Lynn wrote herself. Even more impressive than Lynn's authorship, though, are the topics she tackled. Such subjects as adultery ("Another Man Loved Me Last Night") and rebounding with a stranger ("A Man I Hardly Know") may seem commonplace today, but they weren't exactly acceptable topics in the 1960s and '70s - especially sung from a woman's perspective.
Wisely, Jewell does little to reinterpret these songs. Her delivery is laid-back and her voice is sweet, but even that calm demeanor can't belie the strength and independence in these songs, from the sassy "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (with Lovin' on Your Mind)" to the threatened revenge in "Fist City." The Loretta Lynn that Eilen Jewell channels may sound sweet, but she packs a powerful punch.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 21 January 2011