Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over (Nonesuch) 

Let's assume that Jack White's motivations for resuscitating the careers of female musical iconoclasts like Loretta Lynn and, now, Wanda Jackson are altruistic. A salutation to country and rock's ancestry also seems to motivate White, but Jackson's retrofit—with brassier instrumentation—is ultimately a bit uneven.

Nevertheless, there is still much fun to be gleaned from White and Jackson's musical union. The schmaltzy, drunken swoon of "Teach Me Tonight" and the lurching rhythms of "Busted" are enjoyable. In fact, more often than not, the album plays smoothly. Jackson's wildcat vocals are a bit raspier and snarly, but that is to be expected at 73. Meanwhile, White and his posse provide a nice musical jolt throughout.

Still, the album's music is occasionally too misplaced. The sleazy vamp on "Like a Baby," perhaps the album's weakest cut, is distracting, and the sonic meltdowns of "Nervous Break-down" are attempts to mask another weak track. There seems to be much consternation about the horns on the album—which, admittedly, are pure Herb Alpert—but, on tracks like the crackling opener "Shakin' All Over" or the plastic, tropical "Rum and Coca-Cola," they are effective.

The album succeeds most with unexpected unions: a funky strut on the gospel "Dust on the Bible," and Jackson's demonic caterwaul on Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good." Although Dylan's "Thunder on the Mountain" is an inspired choice, multiple plays will just remind listeners of Dylan's recent lyrical brilliance. The most enjoyable factor throughout, however, is the gameness of septuagenarian Wanda Jackson.

More by Michael Petitti


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