5 out of 5 stars
Country superstar Dolly Parton’s music has transcended generations, providing people of all ages with beautiful representations of heartbreak, loss, love and faith. Her newest album, “Rockstar,” brings those classic Dolly attributes in a rock-and-roll package.
According to Apple Music, after her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022, Dolly felt humbled to say the least, but didn’t quite feel she earned it. To change that, she recorded a true rock album with 21 rock classic covers and 9 original songs with the help of names like Steve Perry, Ann Wilson, Miley Cyrus, Chris Stapleton, the two remaining Beatles and many more.
“Rockstar” is a behemoth of an album, but it balances all the covers and originals with Dolly’s endlessly beautiful vocal prowess. Dolly recorded “Rockstar” at a time in her life when most rockstars have tired their voices from a life of singing thrashing scores, but her slightly aged voice lends itself to the genre. This power comes out in songs like “What has Rock and Roll Ever Done for You?” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” which require a reduced octave and a scratchy vocal performance.
Beyond the vocal performances of Parton and her rock and roll legend partners, who seem to perform at their best with the country superstar singing with them, the production of the album aligns closely with the original intent of the covers. “Rockstar” brings in seasoned rock and roll musicians to perfectly mimic every guitar rift, drumbeat and piano key, only with Dolly’s voice subbed in.
At the same time, “Rockstar” is not a complete replica of these songs. Dolly brings in her intimate approach to songwriting and performance by speaking directly to the listeners or having a short conversation with her singing partners. She brings in her love for gospel music in as well, elevating the songs from rock and roll headbangers to anthems.
Her cover of “Purple Rain” is a perfect example of this approach. It feels like a dedication to Prince, with gospel singers backing her up and improvised notes that seem to last a lifetime.
While Dolly mostly covers classics from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, she does bring in some more modern songs. “Bygones” featuring Judas Priest’s Rob Halford feels like a late ‘90s to early 2000’s rock cover. Her cover of “Wrecking Ball” with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus completely revamps the entire song, eliminating any controversy still left over from its 2013 reception.
Rock is not an easy genre to simply jump into, but Dolly does it seemingly perfectly by revamping an industry that some modern artists still haven’t been able to do. According to Forbes, the album has reached the top of 3 Billboard Music Charts, as well as reaching No. 3 on the Billboard 200, outshining 3 Taylor Swift albums. That is no small feat for someone who is 44 years Swift’s senior.
“Rockstar” absolutely demolishes the music industry, proving that Dolly Parton is an unstoppable force whose work will outlive any other artist, not just because of her talent, but for her brand of acceptance and inclusivity. You can find “Rockstar” wherever music is streamed or sold.
Photo from blog.siriusxm.com.