Liner Note Author: Keith Glass.
Raven's 2013 two-fer combines Loretta Lynn's 1965 album Blue Kentucky Girl with its 1966 follow-up I Like 'Em Country, adding eight bonus tracks (mostly from 1966's You Ain't Woman Enough) for good measure. Respectively, these are her fourth and fifth albums, released just as her stardom was solidifying via a streak of Top Ten country singles, a few of which are here: "Blue Kentucky Girl," of course, but also "The Home You're Tearing Down" and "Dear Uncle Sam," one of the first major Vietnam-themed country hits. Hits aren't really the reason to listen to this disc, however; the selling point is that it reissues a bunch of prime early Loretta that has never seen the light of day digitally. Both albums are cut from the same cloth, pairing classics from the '40s and '50s -- "Your Cheatin' Heart," "I Still Miss Someone," "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On" -- with a couple of recent hits ("The Race Is On"), a bunch of songs from professional Music City songsmiths, and a few originals from Lynn herself. There's nary a misstep on these songs or in the bonus tracks -- it's all sharply selected and professionally executed by the boys in Bradley's barn -- but there's also not much variety, either; it's all robust '60s honky tonk, pitched halfway between Kitty and Patsy, given a fuller production by Owen Bradley. Lynn is starting to develop her own voice here, particularly on her original songs, but she's yet to hit her stride. This means it's not quite as rich or satisfying as Raven's previous two-fer Your Squaw Is on the Warpath/Fist City, but there's plenty to enjoy here and, given the relative rarity of this music, it's certainly worth it for dedicated Lynn fans or any serious listener of '60s country. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine