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| 7 October 2014 | Reply


Label: Dolly Records / Sony Music Entertainment

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Rock – noun – (1) a large mass of stone forming a hill, cliff, promontory, or the like; (2) a firm foundation or support.  That latter is exactly what Dolly Parton provides with her latest disc, Blue Smoke.  Title track “Blue Smoke” opens the disc and gives the listener a glimpse into the bluegrass influence in Dolly’s music.  This is twangy and heavy on fiddle and slide instruments, but an integral part of the disc.  “Unlikely Angel” comes along and, while still country tinged, provides more of that foundation that Dolly has provided for over 47 years and on more than 40 studio albums.  The vocals on this track are some of the best Ms. Parton has released in years.  “You Can’t Make Old Friends” sees Dolly revisiting a legendary recording friendship, when she welcomes Kenny Rogers to duet with her on this reflective and appreciative track.  “Banks Of The Ohio” is a traditional track that gets a face lift from Dolly’s arrangement and additional lyrics.  “Miss You – Miss Me” is a cool country ballad that could easily cross over to AC radio and get some quality spins.  The sentiment and emotion in the lyrics are easily conveyed by Ms. Parton’s familiar voice.  “Lover Du Jour” is straight up fun.  This track about a woman not wanting to be a one-night stand gets special treatment from Dolly including a French accent and some French.  She pipes in at the end ‘oh my Frnech is awesome… ooo they are gonna laugh at me in France.’

“Don’t Think Twice,” penned by none other than Bob Dylan, has that blend of country and pop Dolly has utilized through a lot of her career, regardless of the amount of fiddle or twang on the final version.  The fun tempo of this track gets the foot tapping and keeps you from passing this song by.  “Home” brings some cool guitars to the surface and adds to the different textures of the disc.  The sound on this track is polished and gives Dolly’s vocals a great sound and blend them well with the guitars and rhythm section.  There is some fiddle and mandolin on this track, but it adds depth on this modern sounding country track.  “Lay Your Hands On Me” is a familiar track that anyone who grew up listening to 1980’s or 1990’s rock will find familiar.  The redux of the Bon Jovi classic is fun and has as much energy as the original, even though the lyrics were changed slightly – by Jon and Richie themselves.  The familiar rhythm, pre-chorus, and chorus are fun and deserve at least one more spin!  “If I Had Wings” is as twangy and country as it gets on this disc, but it has a tempo and groove that fit within the diverse pattern of this collection of songs.  “From Here To The Moon And Back” is a cover of her own track featuring another country legend Willie Nelson.  The original, performed by Dolly, Kris Kristofferson, and Jeremy Jordan, is from the movie ‘Joyful Noise’ and originally appeared on that soundtrack.  This version is less pop, but not any less potent.  “Try” closes this collection out and wraps this package up nicely marrying some of the different influences, sounds, and grooves from the other tracks on the disc.  If this is the direction Dolly is headed, I cannot wait to hear the next disc…

Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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