“Van Lear Rose” (Interscope)
The back story: The idea of rock auteur Jack White producing an album for the veteran country star didn’t generate much interest among record executives when it was first pitched in the summer of 2002. But that was before White became a phenom with the White Stripes. So Lynn financed the sessions herself. By the time “Van Lear Rose” was released this spring, the Stripes had exploded and the album itself proved so thrilling that executives were kicking themselves for passing on the project. Lynn wrote all the songs and sings lead on them, but it’s almost as much White’s album as hers because he designed the striking, often edgy textures that give every track on the album a sense of character and heart. The album returned Lynn to the country Top 10 for the first time in years and has picked up airplay on stations with both the Americana and alt- rock formats. Many of the 13 songs have the brash, confrontational style of such landmark old Lynn hits as “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).”
Try this track: “Portland Oregon.” White duets with Lynn on this playful tale of barroom temptation that blends country and rock in ways as inspired as the best tracks Maria McKee did with Lone Justice. It could win Lynn a Grammy nomination in either the rock or country vocal category.
Robert Hilburn. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Jul 4, 2004. pg. E.46