Recording

Cool Spin: Dolly Parton, 'Blue Smoke' (Sony Masterworks)

Dolly Parton has put out a whopping 42 studio albums since her 1967 debut, and to her credit, she’s still giving her all—her voice is the fantastic instrument it’s always been, and she has not lost her knack for writing strong, heartfelt country songs. On her latest, she wrote or co-wrote eight of the 12 songs, which run the gamut from down-home mountain tunes to gospel rave-ups to rock-ish crossover numbers. No matter what side of Dolly you like, you can find it on this diverse album. I like the more sparely produced songs such as “Unlikely Angel,” “Banks of the Ohio,” “If I Had Wings,” the heartbreaking “MissYou-Miss Me” and her fine version of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice.” Emotional duets with Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson are also standouts. Lots of top Nashville players lend tasteful instrumental support throughout.

Producer: Kent Wells. Principal engineer: Patrick Murphy. Additional engineers: Steve Marcantonio, Todd Tidwell, Kyle Dickenson, Michael Davis, Butch Carr, Drew Bollman, Mark Needham, Justin Niebank. Principal Studios: Kent Wells Productions (Franklin, Tenn.), Blackbird Studios (Nashville). Mastering: Steve Marcussen (Marcussen Mastering).

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