Recording Review: Dolly Parton – “Rockstar”: Overtime Karaoke Night

Recording Review: Dolly Parton – “Rockstar”: Overtime Karaoke Night

The country music legend gets lost in a rock museum on his 49th studio album.


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When it was first announced that Dolly Parton would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, her first reaction was to politely decline. As the 77-year-old correctly pointed out: rock music was never her favorite genre.

Latest album “Rockstar” — her 49th (!) in a row since her debut “Hello, I’m Dolly” (1967) — could be seen as a musical acceptance speech, as Parton attempts to justify her new album status. Rocker.

Eerie premonitions build up before a single second of “Rockstar” plays. 30 songs – 21 covers and nine originals – clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes? Yes. Guest list includes Paul McCartney, Emmylou Harris, Debbie Harry, Stevie Nicks, Nikki Sixx, Kid Rock and Miley Cyrus? Checks. A sneaking doubt that half would be more than enough? Yes.

Now, shameless extravagance isn’t necessarily a thing in Dollyland. Quite the contrary: Given Parton’s natural charm and charisma, caricature is precisely an attractive feature of many of the singer’s greatest moments.

The problem with “Rockstar” isn’t that Dolly’s foray into a “new” genre — she manages that perfectly — but how unimaginative and sideways offensive these songs are. One thing is the songs the survivors contribute, like one half of the Beatles on “Let It Be,” John Fogerty on “Long As I Can See the Light” and Elton John on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” .

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Another less forgiving fact about the release are the boring and predictable song choices like “Purple Rain”, “Free Bird” (with Lynyrd Skynyrd members living and dead) and the dung sandwich “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You”. . Add “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (featuring Pink), “Every Breath You Take” (featuring Sting) and “Magic Man” (featuring Ann Wilson From the Heart), and Portrait of a Grown Lady begins to desperately search for “music Classic Rock” on Google to prepare himself.

That’s not to say that “Rockstar” is without its bright spots. Dolly does an elegant version of “Stairway to Heaven” with Lizzo on flute. The original duet of “I Dreamed About Elvis” with Elvis impersonator Ronnie McDowell is a fun, catchy affair that would be a hit in a funnier world. It’s easy to like Chris Stapleton’s shaky foray into a cover of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and Steven Tyler’s guest “I Want You Back” (which has nothing to do with the Jackson 5 song) is suitably sentimental and Aerosmith-esque.

Dolly Parton’s next album will be her 50th, and there’s reason to hope that this one will be a triumphant eve of her career. The Stones recently proved that aging can accommodate inspired rock, and it’s not as if the Beatles have returned to playlists with a suitably inspired piece of AI-powered pop.

Hopefully this is where Dolly Parton ends up. But first she has to find her way out of the Rock Museum.

Best song: “I Dreamed of Elvis”


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Ashura Okorie

Ashura Okorie

"Infuriatingly humble web fan. Writer. Alcohol geek. Passionate explorer. Evil problem solver. Incurable zombie expert."

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