BACKWOODS BARBIE - (Dolly Records-Universal)


"I'm just a backwoods Barbie in a push-up bra and heels/ I might look artificial but where it counts I'm real." - Backwoods Barbie - Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton owes her musical longevity to transcending many genres.

She flirted with disposable pop and disco in the eighties before regaining country cred with her recent bluegrass discs.

Now, aged 62, she revamps her country roots, fertilised by the late Porter Wagoner in the sixties, on this indie disc.

Sure, there's flirtation with pop in covers of Smoky Robinson classic The Tracks Of My Tears and Fine Young Cannibals hit Drive Me Crazy despite fiddle breaks and a high energy finale with new lyrics "I'm gonna love you 'til the cows come home".

Dolly sets the pace in entrée single Better Get Back To Livin' in her own punny way - she suggests romantic resurrection to a pal - "well, I'm not the Dalai Lama but I'll try to offer up a few words of advice."

And if that's not enough self-deprecation check the title track where she has a laugh on us.

"I'm just a backwoods Barbie in a push-up bra and heels/ I might look artificial but where it counts I'm real."

Dolly is still counting when she swings into the movie and music bank where her songs are as legal as tender.


"Another sleepless night alone, crazy from this jealousy/ I heard you call her on the phone, watched you shave and dress and leave/ walked the floor and watch, knowing you ain't missing me." - Made Of Stone - Dolly Parton

She mines the sin shaft with jealousy in Made Of Stone and ruptured romance in Only Dreamin' and The Lonesome.

Parton is the victor when she tackles cheating and reclaims the spoils in assertive and riveting Shinola.

Watch out when Dolly catches her man on the prowl.

"You gotta a snazzy new car in your driveway/ expensive new clothes on your back/ every short skirt on the highway has spent time in your bachelor pad."

And she reclaims the high moral ground as the other woman in Cologne - not the city but the telltale scent of deceit.

Dolly's character, frocked and powdered up, issues a challenge to her cheating beau.

"You ask me not to wear cologne, she'll know you have been with me alone/ and you can't take your secret home, so you ask me not to wear cologne/ you can wipe the make-up off, the lipstick or a little gloss/ but fragrance lingers on and on so you ask me not to wear cologne."

Her character may be a victim in I Will Forever Hate Roses where the flowers are an unwanted parting gift but she assumes control in hard-edged dreams of enduring love in exuberant finale Somebody's Everything.


"I'm to the point where it don't add up/ I can't say that I've come this far with my guitar on pure dumb luck/ that's not to say I know it all cause every time I get too high up on my horse I fall/ I've got all I need, Jesus and gravity." - Jesus & Gravity - Dolly Parton

And, for balance, there's soft gospel in reality-rooted paean Jesus & Gravity.

Dolly may have soared high and fallen back to earth a time or two but she knows she has a guardian watching from afar.

It's a faith dating back to he childhood in a large immediate family and vast cast of kinfolk in the mountains - far from the fools' gold of Hollyweird.

She connects in a career spanning five decades with simple but powerful messages and imagery, fuelled by an unmistakeable voice never lost in the mix.

And, as co-producer with Kent Wells, she ensures fellow icons - pianist Pig Robbins and pedal steel guitarists Paul Franklin, Lloyd Green and Terry Crisp - help drive the studio bus.

There's a phalanx of guitarists - Brent Mason, Bryan Sutton, Wells, Jerry McPherson, Tom Bukovac and former Melinda Schneider producer Biff Watson, replete with two bassists Steve Mackey and Mike Brignardello and pair of drummers Steve Turner and Lonnie Wilson.

Jimmy Mattingly and Aubrey Haynie add fiddle and mandolin and Dave Talbot on banjo enrich the pure country flavour.

Bluegrass belles Alicia Nugent and Sonya Isaacs and Rhonda Vincent and brother Darrin add harmonies to Better Get To Livin', Drives Me Crazy and I Will Forever Hate Roses.

And fellow Grammy partners The Grascals join Dolly and Vicki Hampton and the orchestra in the lush pastures of Only Dreamin'.

Parton proves there's gold in those Smoky Mountains - with a little help from her friends and kinfolk.

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