Reviews

Dolly Parton “Rockstar” Album Review

Rockstar

Dolly Parton

  • Genre: Rock
  • Date: 17 Nov, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Track(s): 30
  • ℗ 2023 Butterfly Records, LLC under exclusive license to Big Machine Label Group, LLC

“Rockstar” is the first rock and roll album released by Parton, and also her 49th studio effort. Following her 2022 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, she had the notion to record a rock covers album. Dolly gathered an incredible group of superstar duet partners with her longtime bandleader and producer Kent Wells in order to make it happen.

Every guest contributor, which includes a long list of legendary artists including Steve Tyler, Stevie Nicks, and the remaining Beatles, give it their all. There’s basically just one overarching idea to take away from the album’s thirty tracks: Dolly Parton is truly living the life of her dreams.

Album Cover Art

Dolly Parton &Quot;Rockstar&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 17, 2024

Parton once again defies the natural science of looking one’s age, as she poses for a sexy shot in her lacy black gown, sporting a red lipstick and letting down her iconic long blonde hair. Holding a fur-covered car steering wheel with one hand, she crosses her well-toned legs, while the other free hand rests on her ample bosoms. This much

Tracks and Features

The album opens with the energetic title track, where Parton’s soaring vocals are driven down a rock-and-roll highway by shredding electric guitars. As hilarious as ever, Parton sets the tone for the song with a fictitious dispute with her parents on her ambition to become a rock star.

Another original song, “World on Fire,” is a kicking, courageous political anthem that advocates for love in a world burning down due to humanity’s violence, lies, and indifference. It features bright guitars and high choral vocals that raise the roof. The song also has drumbeats and mirrors of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

Parton and Steve Perry collaborate on a breezy, spacious rendition of Journey’s “Open Arms,” while Peter Frampton accompany Parton on her tremolo-heavy rendition of “Baby, I Love Your Way.” Parton discovers a gentle tenderness in the song that is absent from Frampton’s original performance of the song.

Together with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus, Parton creates a version of Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” that builds from a gradual simmer to a towering song. Parton covers the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in quite an unsatisfactory way. However, the featured guests, Pink and Brandi Carlile transform the song into a banging rocker!

With its soaring gospel inflections and choruses that transport the listener to Memphis with sax solos, her rendition of John Fogerty’s “Long as I Can See the Light” might be the album’s standout track. Sonically, it sounds like a classic Miko Marks performance. Parton performs a soulful rendition of “Let It Be” that perfectly encapsulates the song’s message, accompanied by the iconic Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

In the first few verses, Parton’s rendition of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” seems like a normal Parton song, but as John joins her towards the end of the song, the song takes on a tougher edge. Without the torch-bearing hits “Stairway to Heaven” and “Free Bird,” what would an album of legendary rock songs be? Parton’s ethereal voice and light flute melodies on the former perfectly convey the psychedelic fairy-folk feel.

But “Stairway to Heaven” doesn’t quite well-suited to her voice, which in some ways, lack strength and depth. Thankfully, the album’s last track, “Free Bird,” features Artimus Pyle and the Artimus Pyle Band, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant who help her excel.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Rockstar 4:36
2 World On Fire 4:21
3 Every Breath You Take (feat. Sting) 4:22
4 Open Arms (feat. Steve Perry) 3:16
5 Magic Man (Carl Version) [feat. Ann Wilson] 5:02
6 Long As I Can See the Light (feat. John Fogerty) 4:11
7 Either Or (feat. Kid Rock) 4:20
8 I Want You Back (feat. Steven Tyler) 5:03
9 What Has Rock and Roll Ever Done for You (feat. Stevie Nicks) 5:01
10 Purple Rain 7:51
11 Baby, I Love Your Way (feat. Peter Frampton) 4:58
12 I Hate Myself for Loving You (feat. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts) 4:07
13 Night Moves (feat. Chris Stapleton) 5:39
14 Wrecking Ball (feat. Miley Cyrus) 3:55
15 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (feat. P!nk & Brandi Carlile) 3:53
16 Keep On Loving You (feat. Kevin Cronin) 3:26
17 Heart of Glass (feat. Debbie Harry) 3:41
18 Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me (feat. Elton John) 5:42
19 Tried to Rock and Roll Me (feat. Melissa Etheridge) 3:49
20 Stairway to Heaven (feat. Lizzo & Sasha Flute) 7:48
21 We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You 3:51
22 Bygones (feat. Rob Halford) 3:59
23 My Blue Tears (feat. Simon Le Bon) 4:03
24 What’s Up? (feat. Linda Perry) 4:38
25 You’re No Good (feat. Emmylou Harris & Sheryl Crow) 3:14
26 Heartbreaker (feat. Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo) 3:39
27 Bittersweet (feat. Michael McDonald) 4:03
28 I Dreamed About Elvis (feat. Ronnie McDowell) 3:38
29 Let It Be (feat. Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr) 4:27
30 Free Bird (feat. Lynyrd Skynyrd) 10:45

Album Theme

“Rockstar” is Dolly showcasing her inventiveness and is rock music at its most extravagant and dramatic. It also serves as a clear indication that Parton is and has always been a politically active person whose voice will not be silenced.

Production Credits

Christine Winslow, Dolly Parton, Don Miggs, Kent Wells, Mark Needham & Mick Fleetwood produced the album.

Stream

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