Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dolly Parton, "Together You and I"

Songwriter:  Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton - What is there to say about her?  She's a country music icon, and one of the greatest female artists ever heard in this genre - in depth of talent, and in scale of success.  Songs like "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," and "I Will Always Love You" are songs that will stay with us for a lifetime.  Indeed, Dolly Parton is unquestionably a living legend.

With the above facts in mind, it's only natural and justified that we would have high expectations of any new music released by an artist of such lofty stature (in terms of career accomplishments, of course, not in physical height).  Of course, you don't come up with a "Jolene" or an "I Will Always Love You" every time you put a pen to paper, even if you are a songwriter as talented as Dolly.  Still, one would rightly expect that any new Dolly song, whether it be a ballad or a ditty, would be something interesting and engaging that you can lose yourself in while listening to it.

I don't hear that in Dolly's new single "Together You and I."  All I hear is an inoffensive distraction - a safe, middle-of-the-road pop-country tune.  As a shunned veteran artist who hasn't had a radio hit in nearly twenty years (No, "When I Get Where I'm Going" does not count), Dolly has made no secret of the fact that she wants to be re-embraced by country radio.  With that in mind, one might see this new offering as primarily a calculated attempt to snag some radio airplay.

It's hard to get into lyrics like "My love for you is deeper than the depth of any ocean," especially coming from an artist who has routinely shown that she can do much better.  As an extra downer, "Together You and I" is weighed down by cluttered, over-polished production.  Even Dolly's distinctive voice is stained with unnecessary vocal processing and echo effects.

It's hard to give Dolly a negative review, but I can't blindly accept every new Dolly Parton release without dignifying it with an honest analysis, nor can I say that I like something when I really don't.  I love and respect Dolly, and as a Dolly Parton fan, I am disappointed.  I'm still holding out hope for Dolly's upcoming new album Better Day, set for a June 28 release, but there's no dancing around the fact that "Together You and I" ranks as one of the weakest Dolly Parton singles in recent memory.  One can only hope that, as a whole, Better Day includes better songs.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)