Pure & Simple
Dolly Parton has sold more than 100 million records and written more than 3,000 songs, and this is her 43rd album of solo recordings. Even in a career spanning half a century, 43 albums is an impressive body of work, the country music legend clearly having knuckled down during her nine to fives. Taking inspiration from her golden wedding anniversary, an appropriate time for the sprightly septuagenarian to record an album entirely of love songs, Pure & Simple is Parton’s celebration of romance. Living up to its title, these 10 songs take an uncomplicated, stripped-down approach. The ballads are built around piano and acoustic guitar and, while the singer is joined by a full backing band (often when it would have been better if they’d stayed quietly in the background), as usual it’s Parton’s voice that is the magic ingredient. Unfortunately, the songwriting doesn’t shine quite as bright. There’s nothing here that could stand up to the classics of Jolene or I Will Always Love You, and without Parton’s typically engaging storytelling, the songs lack honesty and personality.