Music Reviews
Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

Backwoods Barbie Collector’s Edition

Dolly

It makes perfect sense. In an age when the more fleet-footed musicians realize that they’ve got to get theirs because the record company’s marketing gurus couldn’t even give records away via traditional channels, musicians have to cut their own deals to get art out in the public square. So we’re in a time now where artists are cutting deals with more unconventional retail outlets – AC/DC had the very successful distribution deal with Walmart, Prince a somewhat less successful one with Target, and now Dolly Parton with…. Cracker Barrel! Snigger all you want, but it’s a savvy move. Dolly knows her audience and she knows that they’re more likely to buy the physical album than mp3s, especially after they’ve been softened up by copious amounts of biscuits and gravy. But then Dolly’s been doing it for herself for a long time now. For the last few years, she’s been putting out material on her own label, Dolly Records. It made sense, she’d long sought total control of her musical destiny ever since breaking with Porter Wagoner in 1974; she wrote her own songs, produced her own albums, managed her own affairs – why not put her stuff out on the streets by herself, like the savviest rappers?

So she’s picked her newest album, the audacious Backwoods Barbie, added some bonus tracks for the Cracker Barrel masses, and here we are. It seems to be the most fully-realized Parton album in several years – down to the garish pink packaging with Dolly in all sorts of “aw shucks” sorta fish-out-of-water poses – pitchforking hay, “oh check out the glammed-out mudflaps on that truck,” etc! And with a sugary, glossy, Nashville sheen, she’s making a somewhat sideways grab at the brass ring once again. Unfortunately, the album itself is only passable. Parton’s voice is in incredible form for her age – only George Jones’ has mellowed as well – and she still has incredible joi de vivre in her work, throwing herself into every chord change and cornpone lyric with teenage gusto, but the material isn’t up to the standard of classic albums like Coat of Many Colors or Bargain Store. “Backwoods Barbie,” also used in Parton’s recent musical version of breakthrough film 9-to-5, is a likeable enough number – autobiographical and yet myth-making enough to be the equivalent of Iron Maiden’s “Iron Maiden.” Elsewhere, she does a bluegrassy, bizarro cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ “Drive Me Crazy,” the cod-gospel of “Jesus and Gravity,” and the post-feminist rugged individualism of “Better Get To Living” (though she’s fairly well hectoring her poor sad sack of a friend); overall the album just isn’t strong enough or distinctive enough. Diehard fans will pick it up, though casual listeners would be better off picking out the recent Legacy reissues of Jolene or Coat of Many Colors.

Dolly Parton: http://www.dollyparton.com


Recently on Ink 19...

Henry V

Henry V

Archikulture Digest

Blood, guts, and kicking butt in France — it’s the age-old story of Shakespeare. Carl F. Gauze once again enjoys the salacious violence and complicated plot points of Henry V, in the moody dark of Orlando Shakes.

New Music Now 011: Nora O’Connor

New Music Now 011: Nora O’Connor

Features

On today’s New Music Now, Judy Craddock talks to our musical guest, Nora O’Connor, about her solo album, My Heart, and the captivating new music she’s listening to right now. Tune in for great music, and more ’90s references than you can shake a scrunchie at.

Big Time Gambling Boss

Big Time Gambling Boss

Screen Reviews

Writer Kazuo Kasahara and director Kôsaku Yamashita transcend genre conventions to create the memorable film Big Time Gambling Boss. Phil Bailey reviews.

Frank Bello

Frank Bello

Features

Frank Bello’s new memoir Fathers, Brothers, and Sons: Surviving Anguish, Abandonment, and Anthrax takes us from a New York childhood, to Anthrax stadium tours, to fatherhood with the charming informality of a conversation with an old friend. Then I’m Gone, Bello’s first solo EP, provides accompaniment. Joe Frietze reviews.

%d bloggers like this: