Review: Dolly Parton is a ‘Rockstar’ With New Album
UPDATED: November 17, 2023
UPDATED: November 17, 2023

Album Release: November 17, 2023

Label: Butterfly; Big Machine

Dolly Parton Proves Shes Worthy of The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame

Dolly Parton, the queen, the icon, the living legend, has just released a 2.5-hour rock album entitled Rockstar. At 77 years old, Dolly is once again reinventing herself, possibly due to her 2022 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Parton originally respectfully declined, but the committee voted her in anyway. Dolly hits the ground running as she tackles every rock ballad ever written. 

Don’t mistake me; I thoroughly enjoy the album. It’s pure listening fun from start to finish. However, by the time I got through the tremendous run length, I had to apologize to my son for missing the more formative years of his life. I was grateful to find that Parton was still with us after I finished the 30-track journey. The album features duets with every musician who has ever existed, as well as covering every great rock song ever played…..also Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, ironically one of my favorites of the album.

Special Guests and Duets

Dolly, who will inevitably outlive the sun and stars, is still out there making amazing music. I don’t feel it necessary to break down the album track by track or list all the guests because A) I value my life and what time I have left on Earth, and B) the entire album is solid across the board. Each track is essentially a cover song, with the accompanying composer (mostly) joining in to add vocal support. With that said, there are various pleasant occasions and special guests you might not expect, like Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, or, for some ungodly reason, Lizzo singing backup on Stairway to Heaven. Chris Stapleton, of course, is enlisted to lend his voice on Bob Seger’s Night Moves. Stapleton proves, as always, he can sing his ass off. I dont know what more he needs from us…Stapleton is slowly transcending his physical body to become just sounds and notes floating between the planes of existance. If thats not enough celebrity for you, Dolly somehow manages to dig up the late Ronnie Van Zandt and force him to sing an 11min version of  Lynyrd Skynyrds Freebird. 

All of the tracks do what they’re intended to do and there’s nothing new or special to add. This album is meant to be ear candy, and it does a damn good job at just that.  Although the arrangements are unnecessarily changed from time to time in attempts to set Dolly’s version apart, the attempts fall flat and are not needed. The changes are mostly insignificant and don’t really take away from the overall body of work. All your favorite standards still hit you in the feelers, just like they did in the good ole’ days, back when Dolly was still just a younger old woman.

Final Thoughts

Dolly Parton sets aside her reign as Country Music Royalty to become a true Rockstar.

Overall, I’m surprised to say this album is extremely enjoyable. This is Dolly’s tongue-in-cheek response to justify her spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she succeeds with flying colors. Each song, more or less, keeps the original essence of these powerful rock ballads. That alone makes the entire project a success; don’t fix what ain’t broken. Dolly’s voice is a staple and is unmistakable; therefore, it still feels like a Dolly record at its heart. Truthfully, this is an album all ages can enjoy, making it the perfect choice for Dolly’s 49th solo record to date. Dolly and all the guests really kill it on this project. So, if you have the next couple of years free, make sure you check out Rockstar; it truly is an unexpected gem.

Favorite Tracks: Wrecking Ball(w/ Miley Cyrus),Let It Be(w/Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney)

 

RootsnRevelry Grade:                           

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