To say that Loretta Lynn has had a prolific career would be an understatement. With dozens of studio albums under her belt and numerous awards to her name, her career has reached that legendary status that could allow an artist to never write again in their lives; a feat well deserved for someone with a career spanning fifty years. That’s not stopping her, however, with Full Circle breaking the twelve year gap since her last studio album Van Lear Rose. As a collection of both re-recordings of her own material and covers of folk songs, it stands as a testament to the highlights of her career and her skills as a singer.
A variety of moods and styles are covered across Full Circle, making for a pretty cohesive package. The songs on offer range from the subtle yet bouncy rendition of the traditional American folk song In the Pines to an emotional country-tinged cover of the legendary Wayne Carson-penned track Always on My Mind. Wine into Water takes the album in a slightly more spiritual direction, while her cover of the more modern Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven offers a more upbeat take on a relatedtopic. Loretta’s talents need no explanation; every song on offer here is expertly handled, both her own and those she has covered, and despite her age she sounds positively perfect on every track, especially in unison with Elvis Costello and Willie Nelson on the album’s final two tracks.
Lynn’s own tracks easily take the spotlight on the collection, though. Fist City is a sharp 180 from the rest of the album, less in its country style but more so with its sassy lyrics and biting tone, which sticks to the track to this day and still feels as remarkably fresh as it did in 1968. More striking, however, is the recording of Whispering Sea; introduced in the album’s short opening track as the first song she’s ever written, its familiar country tone, simple but heartfelt lyrics and charming violin sections feels comforting and similar in all the right ways.
But whether the new, the old or the folksy reigns supreme is far from important. Full Circle is packed with powerful, riveting songs collected by one of country music’s most memorable singer-songwriters and handled with expert care in every way. Loretta Lynn fans, country enthusiasts and new listeners alike will surely be charmed by this collection of tracks; it’s surely one you won’t want to miss.