Dolly Parton scaled to superstar heights aided by beauty, dynamic personality, and sheer force of will.

Dolly Parton scaled to superstar heights aided by beauty, dynamic personality, and sheer force of will. But what initially got her off the ground was a remarkable God-given talent, cultivated in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. This career retrospective hits many high notes, including early-'70s chart hits like the spunky "Joshua" and desperate "Jolene," both penned by Parton. She also wrote the soaring anthem "I Will Always Love You"—a hit for artists ranging from Vince Gill to Whitney Houston—that still fares best in the author's spare treatment. Parton's voice is a thing of wonder, hovering and darting through "Love Is Like a Butterfly" and making poppier fare like "Here You Come Again" and "9 to 5" more palatable. "To Know Him Is to Love Him," with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, is goosebump material. Generous at 20 cuts, it would still have been nice to see some representation from Parton's more recent Sugar Hill material, which finds this incredible artist in career form.—RW

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print