Picks and Pans Review: Honky Tonk Angels
Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette
Country music’s women first untied their apron strings to the tune of Kitty Wells defiant 1952 chart topper, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” In the decades that followed, such female singer-songwriters as Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton were doing most of their cooking everywhere but in the kitchen.
Now, with some 86 years of recording experience among them, these three country matriarchs collaborate for the first time on Honky Tonk Angels, a superdiva summit similar to Parton’s 1987 Trio with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. The union is a match made in Hillbilly Heaven. Wynette pours on the heartache, Lynn adds down-home soul, and Parton brings along, well, herself. Though they mostly harmonize by the book, on a handful of songs someone—sounds like Parton—rocks the exacting counterpoint by singing sweetly off-key.
Fortunately the women sidestep such obvious traps as trying to sound as hip as Garth or Reba. Instead they salute classic country, chiming in with Wells on the title song and adding their voices to Patsy Cline’s jumpy 1960 recording of “Lovesick Blues.” Elsewhere, the trio take on The Other Woman (“I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know”), confront a whiskey-chasing husband (“Wouldn’t It Be Great”) and sing the middle-aged blues (“Sitting on the Front Porch Swing”), sounding so sublime together that you’ll wonder what took them so long. (Columbia)”