Released: November 17
On the back of her induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Dolly Parton ditches country in favour of her epic first rock album.
Clocking in at 30 songs with a selection of originals and cover versions, and huge line-up of big-name collaborators, it’s her most ambitious project yet and a moment of personal triumph for the legendary musician.
“I am very honoured and privileged to have worked with some of the greatest iconic singers and musicians of all time and to be able to sing all the iconic songs throughout the album was a joy beyond measure,” she says. “I hope everybody enjoys the album as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together!”
Opening with the original title song, it establishes the performer as an aspiring rocker letting loose in her bedroom, shouting back to her parents: ‘I’m gonna be in rock and roll whether you like it or not!’
It’s a typically tongue-in-cheek approach for an album worlds away from hits like Jolene, Coat Of Many Colors and 9 To 5, while maintaining the empowering essence of her lyrics and showcasing her still-phenomenal vocals at 77.
Listening to ‘Rockstar’ is like a fever dream; whether it’s belting out The Police’s Every Breath You Take with Sting, trading verses with Debbie Harry on Blondie’s new wave classic Heart Of Glass or harmonising with Goddaughter Miley Cyrus on Wrecking Ball, it’s an impressive feat that only Dolly could pull off.
Among the highlights, a gospel-influenced rendition of Prince’s Purple Rain sees the superstar at her vocal best (and gives a glimpse at what the future may hold as she nods towards a full LP in the genre), while the Stevie Nicks original What Has Rock And Roll Ever Done For You – an outtake from the ‘Rock A Little’ (1986) / ‘Tango In The Night’ (1987) sessions is a masterclass from two powerhouse performers.
She also delves into her personal catalogue, reimagining the folk-y My Blue Tears into a vast power ballad with Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon.
At times, the epic tracklist is overbearing but rarely does it cross the line into throwaway, so while ‘Rockstar’ may be best enjoyed in two sittings, it’s a great romp of an album and a testament to the force of nature that is Dolly Parton.