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Album Spotlight: Dolly Parton, ‘Blue Smoke’

Blue Smoke, Dolly Parton
Sony Music Masterworks

Dolly Parton’s ‘Blue Smoke’ is a lyricist’s album. Parton’s 42nd studio album rarely relies on silly or corn pone metaphors or jokes, instead offering tracks that stick to the soul.

As a whole it’s much more satisfying than ‘Better Day (2011).’ Superstar collaborations with Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson help, but the strongest songs find the country legend telling a story on her own.

‘Banks of the Ohio’ is the most obvious example. This chilling tale of murder is a long step away most of the other energetic and optimisitc cuts on ‘Blue Smoke.’ She’s not always spilling sunshine on this album, but for the most part Parton wears a smile on every song, except for this dark traditional.

Those turned off by that drama may find a friend in ‘Unlikely Angel,’ a spiritual bluegrass ballad. “The smile upon your angel face / The heaven in your eyes replaced the hell that I’ve been going through before you / How long have you been there for me / I once was blind but now I see / A future full of hope, how I adore you,” she sings during the second verse.

The title-track and Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice’ provide a few hooks to lean on. Neither sacrifice lyrical integrity to get there however. ‘Miss You, Miss Me’ is an orchestral devotional to ones divorced parents. She bares her scars on this song, but it’s not unique in that regard. ‘Home’ also feels wonderfully personal.

Parton proves her songwriting is as sharp as ever on ‘Blue Smoke,’ a diverse, professional project from a woman who’s never been afraid to take chances.

Why Fans Will Love It: ‘Blue Smoke’ is a very energetic collection of song. Parton is full of life during a collection of songs that sticks to the ribs.

Key Tracks: ‘Blue Smoke,’ ‘Don’t Think Twice,’ ‘Miss You, Miss Me’

Did You Know?: ‘Lay Your Hands on Me’ may sound familiar. It’s a cover of a Bon Jovi song!

Next: See All Releases Scheduled for 2014

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