Dolly Parton - Pure & Simple
The latest album from Dolly Parton comes with an immediate selling point, the bonus disc being the complete set from her performance at Glastonbury in 2014, so now you can turn the volume up on your hi fi, stand at the end of the road and relive the experience as it happened. It’s a straight lift of the performance, including all of the introductions, even the awful “Mud Song”, which was probably a better experience on the day than 2 years later. Aside from that, it is a pretty much bravura performance from an artist on the top of her game riding a tidal wave of good will that comes with appearing in the Sunday afternoon slot. It was a performance, no doubt sealed by her stunning return to form with “Blue Smoke” which saw her all over the UK radio stations for the first time in many a year. “Pure & Simple” is the latest burst of creativity from a singer whose place in Nashville history is already safely assured, and who has also managed to build an acting career, as well as her own theme park and charitable work which is quite simply astounding, forinstance her Foundation supplies every pre-school child in USA and Canada a book a month until they reach kindergarten!! “Pure and Simple” comes with a typical Dolly quote, “I’m not pure but I’m as simple as they come” and is a collection of 12 self penned songs, trying to recapture the excitement of when she first appeared on the scene. Depending on how you view that idea will largely decide if you are going to like this record or not, if you are looking for a Brandy Clark style examination of modern day America then you may want to move along but if you are looking for the country of years gone by then you might be in the right place. Her late mother who we first met making that “Coat Of Many Colours” makes a couple of appearances as the one who makes it alright in “Kiss It (and make it feel better) and later on “Mama” where she is very much the Mother of Dolly’s childhood who “..irons and washes clothes, she cooks, she cleans and sews”. Dolly although entering her seventh decade is not without a little twinkle in her eye, “Can’t Be That Wrong” references a number of other songs “Torn Between Two Lovers”, and “I Don’t Want To Be Right If Loving You is Wrong” and “Your Cheating Heart”, contrasting them with “Rock Of Ages” and “Amazing Grace” as she ponders that something “that feels this right can’t be wrong”. The most instantly accessible song “Head Over High Heels” leaves us listening to her as she puts “on my sexy dress” going on a “hot date”. It’s the most modern sounding track of the album and the obvious choice for a single. Deep down though she is “pure at heart” and is much more at home and more believable when singing protestations of love on songs like “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” or the slightly awkwardly phrased “( I will) “Never Not Love You” as opposed to “I Will Always Love You” but then I get she’s already used that title up! So while probably lacking the killer song to gather in new converts, anyone familiar with Dolly’s work is unlikely to come away disappointed.