Dolly Parton
Those Were The Days Review

By Chris Barnes

Fresh off of a critically-successful series of acoustic/bluegrass themed albums, Dolly’s upcoming album Those Were The Days takes Dolly in a more contemporary direction, while keeping some of the bluegrass flavors of her past few albums.

The album begins with its title track, the Mary Hopkin classic “Those Were The Days,” which features a cast of Grand Ole Opry legends adding nostalgia and fun. The voices of Porter Wagoner, George Jones, and Jeannie Seely are clearly heard singing along with Dolly during select parts of the song, including a gang sing on the chorus. However the vocal contributions from Hopkin and the Moscow Circus seem to distract from the song rather than adding to it.

Dolly’s highly-anticipated duet with Keith Urban on the hokey “Twelfth Of Never” pales in comparison to her duet with Joe Nichols on “If I Were A Carpenter.” Dolly’s high soprano and Joe’s low, Haggard-esque vocals complement each other perfectly on the classic Johnny Cash & June Carter duet.

Norah Jones & Lee Ann Womack both add stunning harmony harmonies to “Where Have All The Flowers Gone.” Dolly and Lee Ann’s voices are so similar that it is hard to tell who is singing which part during much of the song. Kris Kristofferson lends a hand on Dolly’s cover of his classic “Me And Bobby McGee.” Dolly performs the song in the style of Janis Joplin, who had a big hit on the song in the 1960s. Tommy James also lends a hand on her updated cover of his hit “Crimson & Clover,” which proves to be one of the albums major highlights.

Another highlight on the album is its first single, Cat Stevens’ “Where Do The Children Play.” If you can get past the somewhat-corny lyrics, the message and Dolly’s strong vocals are sure to tug at your heart and make you think about the current times.

While most of the older 1960s songs on the album seem fresh and current, “The Cruel War” does not. While Dolly’s vocals (as well as those from Alison Krauss & Mindy Smith) are stunning, the song comes off as being very dated.

Although the two are hard to hear at times due to the overly loud bluegrass instrumentation, the weathered voice of Judy Collins complements Dolly perfectly on “Both Sides Now.”

The album closes with Dolly’s powerful cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” backed by an orchestra, choir and David Foster on piano.

Although the album could have been assembled better, Dolly’s amazing vocal performance on many of the tracks makes this album worth buying alone. If you don’t mind a little corn here and there, Dolly’s Those Were The Days is definitely for you.