Parton shows no signs of slowing down with Blue Smoke; rather quite the opposite – and why the hell should she, she’s fabulous!
There's something innately soothing about the voice of Dolly Parton beyond the fact that she has pipes few can rival: superior production, relatable story-telling, self-deprecation, wit, turmoil and empathy are part of the charm, on top of the fond childhood memories she stirs for many Australians who grew up with Parton-loving parents. It's almost unfathomable that at the age of 68 – on her 42nd album – she still sounds this damn fine, and she's repaying Australasia for an almost three-decade touring drought broken by her 2011 visit by dropping Blue Smoke several months before the US and Europe to coincide with her February world tour shows.
The title track lead single sets a shuffling rhythm as fiddles and slide guitar soundtrack a rather upbeat tale of lyin' and cheatin' mixed with train metaphors and straight-up “clickity clack”s, “choo choo”'s and “woo woo”'s from Parton that would feel overcooked for anyone else, but not for the country queen of heartbreak. It's overwhelmingly cute to hear Parton team up with her old Islands In The Stream buddy Kenny Rogers for You Can't Make Old Friends; it's easy to imagine them singing this one to each other in the round too as the songstress trades: “'Cause we both know” to Rogers' huskily spoken “We'll still be old friends”. Willie Nelson also guests on the beautifully solemn ode to love, From Here To The Moon And Back.
Parton shows no signs of slowing down with Blue Smoke; rather quite the opposite – and why the hell should she, she's fabulous!
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