Dolly Parton’s latest album has been released, the title of which, without any exaggeration, is just that Rockstar. Not without reason, since the giant record containing thirty songs even in the basic edition, which is more than two hours long, is a kind of selection of the greatest rock hits of the last century, supplemented by some of Dolly Parton’s own compositions.
More than two hours of selection
At the request of the blonde country singer, more than twenty artists who defined rock music gathered to contribute to the album. The final result was truly grandiose – as can be expected from such a co-production. You don’t have to expect a big, thematic album, but rather a kind of best of the songs that Parton also loves and likes to sing. Despite this, the music was well selected, the sequence is also effective, and the songs are well connected.
Why exactly did Parton want to come up with a work of such a large volume? We wrote about this before:
In the end, however, she accepted the honor and in return promised to fulfill her long cherished dream – which her husband had suggested to her many times – that is, to come out with a real rock and roll album.
We can be skeptical of the above idea, but the album released on November 17, 2023 is truly an almost complete parade of stars. But the question remains: Does Dolly Parton have a place in the ranks of famous rock musicians? Let’s say what we got.
First, a little about the structure of the album: the basic edition has thirty songs (you can hear it on streaming sites and YouTube), the CD bonus edition has 33 songs. Of these, more than twenty notes are arrangements of classic rock hits, but there are also nearly half a dozen of Dolly Parton’s own songs. The two tracks that start the album right away are the title track Rockstar and the World on Fire – own composition, and it’s not bad either. As an extra Rockstarin Bon Jovi’s ex-guitarist, the legendary Richie Sambora hits the strings.
He doesn’t lie to himself
However, there is some gospel influence in the music, plus Parton couldn’t completely strip off the role of the country singer, but that’s not really a problem. If he suddenly announced at the age of 77 on his 49th record that he is in fact an unbridled rock singer, we would either not believe it or wonder why he didn’t show this side of him for more than fifty years.
What is fortunate is that his characteristic timbre – especially in the higher registers, when he also lets it out a bit – fits the world of classic rock music. Her delicate vocals also work well on the album, especially in those rock ballads that require clean, airy, light vocals.
It would be foolish to list all collaborators, because then dear readers could look at them for three more paragraphs. I would like to highlight just a few names to show the quality of the album:
Meanwhile, songs by bands and artists such as Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones or Prince were added to the cover list. I would highlight the latter separately, from whom it is legendary Purple Rain Parton covered the song. This is the only number on the base album that, although it is a cover, is performed by the singer alone, without any guest performers. I never thought I’d say this, but even if it doesn’t have the impact of Prince, Parton delivers the song perfectly, it has an emotional charge and energy.
During the arrangements, the country singer did not change the tracks from their original versions. This record is more of a kind of tribute, thank you. He didn’t try to blink by wondering how he could rethink the hits that shaped the world of popular music, and maybe that way the end result is even more authentic.
Not everything can work out
The mission itself is fantastic, that so many different musicians were roped in just because Dolly Parton asked them to be. Although it was not possible to string together all the musicians – Robert Plant and Jimmy Page refused to reunite, even at Parton’s request, and it was not possible to make an appointment with Mick Jagger, who was busy working on the Stones’ new album -, looking at the end result, there is no reason to complain.
The performers mostly collaborated in the songs of their own bands,
and where this was not possible, other musicians took the place of those who dropped out. That’s how it was Stairway to Heaven also in the case where, in the absence of the original Zeppelin members, Parton asked a contemporary pop star, Lizzo.
I would like to highlight here that not only musicians from the last millennium gathered. XXI maintains a good relationship on the coast. with pop stars of the 20th century, so it happened that P!nk or Miley Cyrus also appeared on the album. Incidentally, the latter is Dolly Parton’s goddaughter, with whom the young singer recorded her own song (Wrecking Ball) are sung together, at the end of which they sing that
i will always love you
referring to Dolly Parton’s famous song, which was also covered by Whitney Houston, and the relationship between the two.
It would be possible to dissect and analyze each song one by one, but since these are mainly arrangements and not reworkings, the success of the record depends on how open the audience is to enjoying these tracks in a more modern sound reminiscent of the original arrangement, in the voice of Dolly Parton . Most of the music still holds its own.
Maybe just Pat Benatar’s energetic hit, the Heartbreaker lost more of its power, but it is not tragic either.
All of the singer’s own songs have good solutions. The conversational parts heard in various tracks are a bit forced here and there, apart from that, there are a lot of good ideas and catchy melodies, so the end result is quite impressive.
If we just take this record for what it really wants to be – a thank you for the Hall of Fame induction, the fulfillment of an old dream and a tribute to rock music – then it lives up to the expectations placed on it flawlessly. If we expect Dolly Parton to be seen as a rock star instead of a country singer, then we will be disappointed.