When people utter the words ‘Country music’ people across the world, fans of the genre or not, think of one name. Dolly Parton. In fact she has succeeded in making her mark so well that now just Dolly will suffice! With over half a decade of music already out with the masses she is back with another album! There really is no stopping the Queen of Country. Of course when I heard about the new release I was eager to get my hands on a copy to take a listen and write this review!
So before I begin, I feel I need to point something out… Not only has Dolly been making music for over 50 years but this is her 43rd studio album. 43! These days it is hard enough for an artist to have a career successful enough to have more than one commercial release but 43!?
The new album, ‘Pure & Simple’, also the title debut single from the record is another fantastic release from Ms Parton. What I love is I, of course. had my expectations from this record and it lived up to them. With some artists the repetition and unchanging style could be seen as a bad thing but with Dolly you know exactly what you are going to get. Her songs are written from the heart and almost with an air of naivety which is something that is so refreshing to hear in a such a pessimistic judgmental society we live in.
The UK release of the album is a 2 disc special edition featuring Dolly’s full live set from Glastonbury in 2015 including the much talked about ‘Mud’ which she wrote about the experience of visiting the Glastonbury Festival. The live CD stands along and is full of her classic hits so I shall leave that there!
The new music. That is what we have all been waiting for. From the moment I heard the news of a new album, thoughts of what were to come were circling my mind! So here goes…
12 tracks, with a few that may sound familiar but predominately new unheard music that will have her fans across the world rushing out to get their copy of the album!
Starting with Pure & Simple, the song is classic Dolly from the melody to the phrasing and content. It begins with a mandolin which runs throughout the song in perfect harmony to the track. Its all about love, a love that just is. No complications, no questions, no reasons.
I just love you pure & simple, can’t believe you’re really mine
The second track was originally recorded as a duet with Porter Wagner for their 1970 album Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca. A song that I am sure will be familiar to some of you. A great acoustic track that is followed up by Never Not Love You. As she lists many things that she will never get to do, or will never be in life, for example “I may not climb Mount Everest, or sail the ocean blue” she tells the audience, in this case her lover, she will ‘never never not love you’.
Despite the fact she is clearly old enough there is still a part of me that finds it weird to hear Dolly singing about… intimacy. Kiss It (And Make It All Better) is just this. While she begins the song talking about how ‘mummy and daddy would kiss a scraped knee or elbow’ and everything would be better she quickly progresses to how it translates to being an adult. How two broken hearts at a bar can have a few drinks and get a little carried away by the end of the night! Despite the song topic she has a way of still making it sound innocent. I think she may be the only person able to do that!
Kiss me all over, all over, all over, ‘cos that’s where it hurts the worst
“Can’t Be That Wrong” was previously recorded as “God Won’t Get You”, with a few lyrical differences, and released on the soundtrack to Parton’s 1984 film Rhinestone.
One of the other tracks that I really loved on the album was I’m Sixteen. The song starts out with some do-do-do-doo doo’s (yep, that is the technical way of describing them!); my foot was tapping before I even realised I was doing it! Whilst the style of her musical composition has stayed very true to her style over the years this songs feels very much like lyrically she is trying to reach out to her younger fans. Whilst the basic message of the song is how you are only as old as you feel I also took it as being word of encouragement to enjoy your youth. Yes you are only as old as you feel but you are also only 16 once! Its good to keep some spontineity but whilst getting frisky in the back seat of a car might fly as a young adult….!
The record also features the song ‘Mama’. A track which has been featured in Dollywood’s My People production since 2013.
So I missed a few tracks from that list but rest assured the album as a whole is just fantastic. It is a credit to Ms Dolly Parton and an album that any music fan should be glad to have as part of their collection. Maybe that is said as part of my bias of being such a big fan since I first heard her music but there is a true authenticity in the simplicity of her songs. For those 12 tracks, the world seems like a better place. It opens your eyes to seeing things without prejudice and without judgement. Just taking them on their merit. We all have a tendancy to over think things and analyse them but Dollys approach to her lyrics is almost like seeing the world from a childs view. In the respect that we didn’t know pain as a child, we didn’t see war and suffering and you could see the good in everything. I love that and it is a really refreshing journey to take as you listen to this album.
This is going to be stuck in my car CD player for a while so if anyone wants me I will be driving down the motorway singing Pure & Simple at the top of my lungs!