Dolly Parton needs no introduction. The legend is a world-wide household name, with over forty albums in her back-catalogue, and a plethora of accolades. This new album alone has a huge array of fellow legendary artists, all of which hold Dolly in high regard. Rockstar is a nod to these other creators, and the songs of which that the Queen of Country herself has deemed special.
The mammoth thirty song collection begins with the title track Rockstar, featuring a special appearance from Richie Sambora. It’s a straight-forward introduction to an album celebrating all things rock and roll, Dolly singing about a typical parent V.S. child senecio, one presumably very reminiscent of her own childhood. Followup World On Fire is a slow marching rocker that attacks the troubles in a world with a vague umbrella of empowerment and showing love to one another. It’s from here that the assortment of covers begins. Sting appears with Dolly on her version of Every Breath You Take, performing it relatively by the numbers but in a higher register that gives it a strangely modern feel next to the up-to-date production, while Joan Jett gets a similar treatment on her and Dolly’s rendition of I Hate Myself For Loving You.
Each of the covers on the album fall into one of two categories; faithful takes on the original material, or modern twists. Long As I Can See The Light by Credence Clearwater Revival gets the latter, the tune beginning with piano and Dolly and John Fogerty trading lines before transitioning into a more swung rendition. Other classics such as The Beatles Let It Be, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John, and Prince’s Purple Rain all get a modern take but retain the original structure and, for the most part, the instrumentation. Dolly has also revamped some of her own classic songs, a highlight being My Blue Tears from her 1971 album Coat of Many Colors. The album concludes on a particularly bright and sparkly version of Free Bird, the perfect rock song to end a collection like this.
Rockstar holds something for everyone, which at it’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime is unsurprising. It’s a competent covers album that doesn’t take too many risks with the source material, wisely including the originators as well as other fantastic performers. The inclusion of a few originals like I Dreamed of Elvis and the title track help breakup the familiar tracks, and fresh takes on some of the hits adds even more charm to this grandiose compilation.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.