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A good album, but beware the schmalz
on 15 April 2006
Now, there is no doubt that at times this album lapses into hopeless schmalz ("Imagine" is a case in point) and, depending on your view of Dolly Parton, this will either be completely damning or completely redemptive. However, there is no doubting that underneath all the layered harmonies, backing choirs and bluegrass frills, Parton is still a fine singer and, when she hits her stride, as in "Me & Bobby McGee", she's incredible. Elsewhere on the album, there are tracks that seem, at first listening, like potential car crashes (such as "Where Do The Children Play?" and the almost disco speed "Both Sides Now") but actually, after repeated listening, do start to grow on you, and that, I think, is true of the whole album: it is a grower, and, actually, a testimony to Parton as an interpreter of other writers' material, but if you don't have a strong stomach for bluegrass-lite sentimentality, I'd be wary.