September 15, 2016 Dolly Parton – Pure & Simple (Album Review)
Country, Pop, and Bluegrass star Dolly Parton has achieved countless accomplishments, including but far from limited to, putting out forty-three albums over an impressive forty-nine years or so. At seventy years of age, Parton is still going strong, and with her highly regarded knack for songwriting, mixed with her beautifully feminine, and peaceful voice, she does not fall short of astounding. Known for her classic hits “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene,” and “Blue Smoke,” just to name a few, however, with so many albums under her belt, there is much more to dive into. That in mind, her latest album, released on August 19, 2016 via Dolly Records and RCA Nashville, is entitled Pure And Simple for obvious reasons and then some. Co-Producer and Songwriter Parton has really gone back to her roots with Pure & Simple to get some creatively sap-filled cuteness in the tunes, all while refraining from making the arrangements overly complicated.
Containing ten tracks of pure, heartfelt Parton, it begins with the well-mixed title track which serves as the basic premise for what is yet to come. Then, “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” as well as “Never Not Love You” are typical Parton pieces, and of course carry her lifelong theme of romance, love, and happiness, which opposes a Country music theme as those usually end in heartbreak. However, Parton always finds a way to bring out the positives in any situation, and that may be one of the main aspects that sets her above the rest and off in her own direction. It also may be why she has won awards for her songwriting, and even despite her many talents as an actress, she thrives in the singing and songwriting department all the way.
Moving along gracefully, “Can’t Be That Wrong” is another peaceful ode to her own songwriting and serves as a metaphor for love as well. Exemplifying such, she sings “torn between two lovers on the jukebox” and goes on to sing “I could have wrote that song.” Basically, she has a great point that when rules and emotion collide, going with one’s heart serves as the greater and most beneficial outcome. Next comes “Outside Your Door,” which seems to be a follow-up to the previous tune, but goes a step further to. This kind of gets borderline stalker, if taken in a literal sense, yet it is played out in a slightly comedic and lighthearted way in rhythm and vocals.
Later on, two favorites no doubt will be “Tomorrow Is Forever” and “I’m Sixteen,” essentially because they sing to the tragedy and appeal of aging and time’s persistence. Also, they have some of the most unique musical elements played out as well. The latter song is very ironic as the mature vocal tone of Parton is definitely apparent despite the young-hearted singing style. That said, she expresses the joy of youth like it was yesterday for her which brings in some great fun overall. In addition, there are also overlaid vocals that give a sixties jive kind of vibe to the tune although it still remains modern. This is prior to the album’s finale, “Forever Love,” which yet again is a love ballad acoustic style that still manages to say “I Love You” in a totally different hand-crafted manner that is signature of Dolly Parton.
Interestingly enough, Pure & Simple was finished with a seemingly simplistic touch, but had twenty-two other people involved in the making of this timeless body of music. Listing them all would start to become mind-numbing, which is something Parton is not, therefore it is recommended to seek that information out in the liner notes of the album. Also noteworthy, Pure & Simple comes with two bonus tracks available primarily and solely on the Walmart and international editions, and those cuts consist of “Mama” and “Lovin’ You.”
Parton has been on a supporting tour of Pure & Simple since July 19, 2016 and will continue through the U.S. and Canada until her final date on December 10th. The setlist of course will include new songs as well as the classic hits, so be sure to get on board before the upcoming dates sell out. All fame and fortune aside, Parton is obviously a kindhearted person, and having started life as a poor child stuck somewhere in the middle of her many siblings, she grew into a generous, creative, and beautiful soul that keeps on giving. With so much creative control over her album, it really is apparent that she has fine-tuned it to her liking, and the results are one of the most phenomenally mixed albums out, appearing flawless and completely effortless. Without further delay, CrypticRock gives Pure & Simple 4.5 out of 5 stars.