"Backwoods Barbie" does something remarkable; it takes you as a listener back to the Dolly of years past. What I enjoyed most about this album is how polished it sounds and how it doesn't sound like any 'popular' country albums out today. The songs sound like something from her older catalog, the instruments used echo true country music that's been replaced by the modern computerized voices and instruments and she sounds like she's having fun doing her first real country album in years. "Backwoods Barbie" is polished and consistent, each track pulling you through this unique album.
The cover songs, "Drives me Crazy" and "The Tracks of My Tears" are great. She doesn't completely revamp them but she definitely puts her stamp on them. There's a great feet-thumping, Southern metaphor slinging, hand clapping breakdown at the end of "Drives Me Crazy" that will have you surprised at how well this song works as a country anthem. "Tracks of My Tears" doesn't sound too different from the original but her voice and vocals truly evoke a sadness and delicate demeanor that would create a few tear tracks of your own. "Better Get To Livin'" is an upbeat song with Dolly dishing out advice on those who have a hard time looking at the brighter side to our usual depressing, drab lives. "Backwoods Barbie" is classic Dolly in my opinion, taking a great title and idea and weaving together this song about how you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, with her commenting on how we may perceive her and misjudge her based on her own looks. "Jesus & Gravity" is a moving song with a moving message where Dolly takes on this feeling of being down but not being out and by the end it sounds like a gospel or church anthem.
The stand-out track for me was the final one, "Somebody's Everything" where Dolly seems to have held the best for last. She shows off her vocals and ability to truly put emotion and feeling into a song by singing about what she wants out of a relationship and it leaves you wanting more from this album by the time the song is over. The other songs aren't bad at all, the tracks mentioned simply stood out for me and are the ones I'd make someone listen to in order to get a good taste of what Dolly has made for us.
This is one of my favorite albums to come out in a few months now. I hate that it hasn't gotten more attention or publicity because this is what country music, real country music, is all about. Dolly Parton stands out from all the other artist who have jumped on the trend of the computerized almost pop-sounding songs and sounds to do the brave thing of putting out an album that sounds like it was made back in the 70s or 80s. Definitely buy this album, you will not be let down.
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Antoine D. Reid (Decaptain)
Antoine Reid is an innovative graphic designer with over five years experience in print design specializing in promotion and publication design, illustration, and creating dynamic content for the Web. … more
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Parton's first mainstream album in 17 years appeals to all her fans without sounding insincere or compromising. The title track, a fiddle-and-piano colored two-beat that's a sympathetic bit of autobiography, belies her campy doll-like cover pose. The debut single "Better Get to Livin'" is a page from her own upbeat canon, and when she's downhearted in the steel-guitar weeper "The Lonesomes" and the cocktail lounge arrangement "Made of Stone," she draws on the influence of earlier country queens like Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline. Parton's vocal tones remain equally pure, distinctive, and captivating over grinding six-string power chords as she blasts out Fine Young Cannibal's "Drives Me Crazy." She's especially affecting on a faithful rendition of Smokey Robinson's "The Tracks of My Tears." The bottom line is that Parton's one of America's greatest enduring vocal stylists, whether she's revisiting her roots in bluegrass or making commercial hay.--Ted Drozdowski