When you think of Dolly Parton, sometimes it's hard not to chuckle. But usually, you aren't laughing at the blonde bombshell, you're laughing with her. The title of her newly released album, Backwoods Barbie, is a perfect example. On the album cover, Parton's looks don't appear to have changed one bit over the decades, and her unvarying image seems somehow reassuring.
During the 1980s, Parton's sound was an undeniably commercial, country-pop drawl. Then, over the 10 years or so, her sound changed to include a more bluegrass-based, blue-collar-pleasing sound. Backwoods Barbie brings her back to the glossy country-pop of the '80s. As always, her voice flutters like the wings of a butterfly but is delivered with the force of a 747 engine.
"Get me back on the radio," Parton recently exclaimed, and apparently America said, "OK." The album ranked No. 2 on Billboard's Country Albums Chart during its first week, and sales climbed above 26,500.
Parton has a history of strong songwriting, and this album is no exception. Barbie sports a few pop remakes, including Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy" and Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears." Both Parton's originals and her remakes showcase her solid experience as a musician. Parton cancelled her March performance in Austin, Texas, because of back problems. Based on her age (she's 62), fans may not be surprised.