Dolly Parton’s Discography – Rainbow (1987)

Rainbow was the first of Dolly’s albums for her new record label Columbia, after her nearly two decade long relationship with RCA ended. When signing with CBS she reportedly envisioned rotating the style of her albums, with one pure pop followed by one pure country. The problem with that plan was exposed almost immediately. Rainbow was Dolly’s lowest charting album for nearly fifteen years and the Trio album with Emmylou and Linda (also released this year) was her most successful in a decade. The public had spoken: they wanted Dolly back singing country music. At age 41 her pop dream was dead. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Rainbow (1987)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Real Love (1985)

“I’m commericalminded. If I can’t get my own hit, I’m not too proud to hang on somebody else’s coattails,’ said Dolly in a revealing interview she conducted in the mid-90s. Therefore working with platinum king Kenny Rogers, who she called ‘a magical man’ was a no-brainer. Together they would have a pop smash with Islands in the Stream, a successful Christmas album released in 1984, and a country chart topper with the title track of this 1985 album. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Real Love (1985)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)

The appeal of Dolly Parton’s image has always been in how the ‘false’ make-up, wigs, gaudy outfits and cosmetic enhancements contrast with her country roots and the vulnerable truths in her music. ‘The Great Pretender’ is what she set out to be as a poor kid playing dress up, writing songs and hoping to become a star. By 1984 she’d successfully created her legendary persona and was a household name. Her musical output in the eighties was wildly inconsistent at best, with dwindling returns from the heady heights of 9 to 5. This album would prove to be a low of her recording career, filled with forgettable cover versions of songs from the fifties and sixties that offered little of what had got her here in the first place. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Burlap and Satin (1983)

1983 was a year that brought Dolly more crossover chart success thanks to her duet Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers. Her 25th solo album released in the same year, Burlap and Satin, in comparison did not contain any real classic or memorable hit songs. The title is an acknowledgement that there will always be two contrasting aspects to her music – and how best to balance pop and country is something she is obviously still struggling to reconcile at this point. This album reached number 5 in the country charts, a disappointment for her, although it did result in a Grammy nomination. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Burlap and Satin (1983)”

Album Review: Little Big Town – Nightfall

Before I started this blog I wasn’t hugely familiar with Little Big Town, since their fame in the U.K. is niche at best. Many of my fellow Americana bloggers seemed to scoff at them, as though they were just another bad example of pop county and the Nashville big machine. However when I caught them live at C2C festival a couple of years ago I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed their set. This new album Nightfall has been mainly produced by the band themselves, alongside Golden Hour producers Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk.

While a band like this don’t set trends themselves, their work and choice of songs has always been admirable in comparison with some other mainstream, major label county artists. Unfortunately this also means that they too have fallen victim to the current banishment of women from the country music radio airwaves, despite their previous success. Luckily for the listener that seems to have freed them to do something much more interesting on this album. Continue reading “Album Review: Little Big Town – Nightfall”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

Despite never working a 9 To 5 job in her entire life, Dolly Parton understood the plight of working women and channeled that despair, hope and frustration into an anthem that still resonates today, long after the film of the same name has faded in the cultural consciousness. Her previous album, Dolly, Dolly, Dolly had been entirely written by others, so it was ironic (although not a surprise to anyone who understands her songwriting talent) that she would find the crossover hit she was looking for in her own pen after all. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs”

Album Review: Jade Bird

When I reviewed Jade Bird’s EP Something American back in 2017 I admired her talent and was intrigued to see what direction her career would take. She was being marketed at the time as ‘country’ – which seemed like a bit of a stretch for a girl from England singing soft rock/pop. However Yola recently proved that it is possible to take such influences and make them sound authentic. Both artists have now been nominated as ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ at the 2019 Americana awards, the first Brits to gain nominations in that category since Mumford & Sons in 2011. Continue reading “Album Review: Jade Bird”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)

Released in 1979 Great Balls of Fire is right in the middle of Dolly’s mainstream pop phase. She aims for the charts but ironically it is one of the few albums from this era without any real classic career-defining songs. It’s a continuation of her previous run of big budget albums but with ever diminishing returns you feel she’s stretching this seventies pop style to its limits. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)”

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