Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: "Pure and Simple" - Dolly Parton

by Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Music-News.com

Dolly Parton's output is prolific. As one of the world's most celebrated songwriters, she has shown over her 42 solo studio albums and 18 collaborative albums that she is an artist who is always experimenting with genre. From disco Dolly to balladeer Dolly, she knows how to get a party started, but can quite as easily have her listener in floods of tears with a simple, understated three minute sing song. As she releases her 43rd studio album, Pure and Simple, she has the pressure of following her most successful UK album release to date.

In 2014, to coincide with her appearance at Glastobury, she released the new studio album, the playful Blue Smoke, in a double disc set alongside a greatest hits collection. The move was a clever one and and rushed for the release, with the collection peaking at number 2 and remaining in the Top 10 for 12 weeks. With her UK tour proving equally popular, Dolly fever firmly hit the UK and encouraged further the growth of country's popularity. However, will Pure and Simple be able to outsell it's predecessor?

Pure and Simple is also well thought out. Accompanying the new material is her Glastonbury set, which is bouncing with energy and shows off her irresistible on stage persona. With notable highlights including Jolene, 9 to 5 and the aforementioned Blue Smoke, it is in the explanations of the true stories behind her songs that really lift the live set above another collection of Dolly's hits.

And of Pure and Simple? Well, it isn't going to tick the boxes for the fans of her bouncier hits, but for those that love a well-constructed, simply penned song, Pure and Simple has a lot to offer. Dolly may be best known in the commercial realm for her poppier numbers, but her fanbase love her sensitive side just as much as they do her playful.

Pure and Simple is headed up by the title track, which is arguably the only obvious radio cut from the collection, but that does not mean it is the album's finest moment. The blissful reworking of Porter Wagoner collaboration Tomorrow Is Forever contends with the Dollywood classic Mama for album highlight, but lose out narrowly to the album's cheesiest cut, Head Over High Heels.

Pure and Simple does what the album title says it will. This is not Dolly's showiest, glitziest moment, but as a stripped back collection, it is still a stunning body of work.

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