Blue Smoke

Blue Smoke

Dolly Parton is still a serious musical force on 2014’s Blue Smoke, her 42nd studio album. Her covers of Bob Dylan (“Don’t Think Twice”), the traditional “Banks of the Ohio” and Bon Jovi’s (!) “Lay Your Hands On Me” prove she’s both steeped in tradition as well as open to new challenges. The duets with Kenny Rogers on “You Can’t Make Old Friends” and Willie Nelson on “From Here To the Moon and Back” fill the nostalgic quotient of the album with true tearjerkers from each of their previous albums. “Home” is brash country pop, while the title track and “Unlikely Angel” hew to sounds of bluegrass and country without attempting anything too contemporary. “Miss You-Miss Me” is an affecting acoustic ballad that’s remarkable for just how strong and nuanced Parton’s voice is after all these years. Filling out the album with “If Had Wings,” “Lover du Jour” and “Try” tips the album nicely into country.

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