Dolly Parton, ‘Better Day’ – Album Review
How many ways can the sun shine? If you're Dolly Parton, the answer is twelve. Each song on her new album is a burst of daylight.
'Better Day' is that girl you knew in high school who is a joy to be around 90 percent of the time, but the other ten percent she's a little too plucky. Let's admit it, dark and rainy days can feel pretty good too. The only criticism for 'Better Day' is that Parton never provides listeners that shower. Even the more vulnerable tracks like 'I Just Might' and 'Somebody's Missing You' are the happiest melancholy country songs imaginable.
Four of the album's songs -- 'I Just Might,' 'Get Out and Stay Out,' 'Shine Like the Sun,' and 'Let Love Grow' -- come from the Broadway adaptation of Parton's movie '9 to 5.' Another ('Together You and I') is the song she and Porter Wagoner sang on the 'Porter and Dolly' album in 1974. Her recreations don't feel hackneyed or reminiscent. Instead they're fresh introductions to her catalog for the younger generation. Parton's voice continues to soar, even dance, from verse to verse and chorus to chorus. She never allows a moment for her dearest fans to say, "That's OK, she's still pretty good for her age."
The last few songs on the album lean gospel. While none really stand out on their own, all are an enjoyable revival. A duet with her producer on 'Holding Everything' is the only true collaboration, although it seems she could have easily snagged a high profile name to help her out. The title track is a definite standout, but really any of the dozen songs will sound great if one's day has been roses. If one's day has been more thorny, it'd be advisable to set this album aside until the self-pity parade wraps up.