Thursday, September 04, 2014

Blue Smoke shows us why Dolly Parton is such an iconic country songstress

album review

Singer: Dolly Parton
Album: Blue Smoke

No matter how many new faces appear on the country music scene, Dolly Parton still remains one of the genre’s most beloved names.

The 68-year-old country legend has impressed the world with a career that has spanned five long decades and still continues to remain relevant without bowing to mainstream trends. Her 42nd album, Blue Smoke, sees the singer conquer the charts with her highest placed release to date, winning audiences over with her powerful voice and strong songwriting skills.

Parton’s charm and sense of humour shine through on this set of 12 songs, which include original tracks written and composed by the singer herself as well as covers of pop and traditional tunes along with a handful of duets with some of her country cohorts. From performing a bluegrass version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Don't Think Twice’ to recording a cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your Hands on Me’, the seasoned artist knows how to play with variety without losing herself in the process. The songstress also reunites with Kenny Rogers for the warm ‘You Can't Make Old Friends’ and joins Willie Nelson for the wistful ‘From Here to the Moon and Back’.

Whether Blue Smoke goes for tones that are vibrant (the witty bluegrass of ‘Blue Smoke’ and the radio-friendly ‘Home’) or mellow (her reworking of the traditional ‘Banks of the Ohio’), the album never fails to highlight the singer’s ability to connect with her listeners. This isn’t a thematic or statement record, but a collection of songs that are pleasantly melodious and play to the singer’s strengths. Driven by her effortless delivery and impeccable musicality, Blue Smoke is a satisfying slice of country music that shows just why Dolly Parton is one of the most iconic performers of all time.

Highlights: ‘Home’, ‘Don’t Think Twice’, ‘Blue Smoke’

Rating: 4 out of 5

- By Sameen Amer

Instep Today, The News - 4th September, 2014 *

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