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Dolly Parton – Pure & Simple album review

The undisputed Queen of Country delivers a sweet collection of love songs.

Dolly Parton
Credit: Sony Music

Dolly Parton - Pure and Simple

Credit: Dolly Records, LLC / RCA Nashville

Dolly Parton is the undisputed Queen of Country music and in 2014 she experienced quite the career resurgence with the release of her album Blue Smoke. In the UK the set was released with a second disc containing the singer-songwriter’s greatest hits and it coincided with her much-hyped headline set at Glastonbury where she pulled the biggest crowd the festival has ever seen. Blue Smoke went platinum here in the UK and gave Dolly her highest charting album on this side of the pond. Two years on from that incredible success, Dolly has released new album Pure & Simple.

Like Blue Smoke, Pure & Simple has been released with a second disc but this time it’s her Glastonbury headlining set. It’s a very clever move by Dolly’s team as people who want a momento from that classic set, can have it along with her new album increasing the potential sales for the album drastically. We don’t need to spend too much time talking about the second disc though, as you’ll no doubt be familiar with Dolly’s biggest hits by now and her Glastonbury set list.

Pure & Simple has been released in celebration of Dolly’s 50th wedding anniversary and it’s a fitting concept record to mark the occasion. The order of the day on this release is love and romance, two things Dolly has written about a lot in her career. Pure & Simple is a more stripped-back record than Blue Smoke and it’s Dolly going back to basics. Four of the tracks on the record – Tomorrow Is Forever, Say Forever You’ll Be Mine, Can’t Be That Wrong and Mama – have all been recorded by Parton for various projects in the past but the versions on this release are all new.

The album opens with the title track and it’s a perfect introduction to what Pure & Simple is all about. The gentle lilt of the melody combines with Dolly’s trademark vocal and it’s the start of a record that embraces optimism and hope. It sets the mood for the entire record and Pure & Simple is a dreamy listen that sits alongside the best music Dolly has released. Never Not Love You is a bold declaration from a woman who knows her weaknesses and her strengths, and has faith in her feelings for the man she’s with. The sentiment is sweet and heart-warming, like many songs on the record.

The playful I’m Sixteen is a song about feeling like a teenager despite your body aging, Head Over High Heels is a feisty track about falling deep for someone, and Mama is a beautiful ballad about the relationship between a mother and a daughter that harks back to the classic Dolly track Coat of Many Colors. The highlight on the record is Tomorrow is Forever, which features one of the best vocals from Dolly. She soars on the chorus and the strength of her voice drives the melody and makes you feel her emotion.

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Pure & Simple does what it says on the tin and it’s a beautiful collection of heartfelt songs. It seems that Dolly can do no wrong during this stage of her career and it’s incredible to see someone who has been in the industry as long as she has, still topping the charts and selling records. Dolly has always forged her own path and she continues to do so with this solid release.


Track Listing: Disc 1- 1. Pure and Simple 2. Say Forever You’ll Be Mine 3. Never Not Love You 4. Kiss It (And Make It All Better) 5. Can’t Be That Wrong 6. Outside Your Door 7. Tomorrow Is Forever 8. I’m Sixteen 9. Head Over High Heels 10. Forever Love 11. Mama 12. Lovin’ You Disc 2 – Dolly Live from Glastonbury Record Company: Dolly Records, LLC / RCA Nashville Release Date: 19th August 2016

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