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Dolly Parton

Coat Of Many Colors – 1999 (Buddha)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Dolly Parton

It wasn't that long ago that Chet Flippo began his entry on Dolly Parton in "Country On Compact Disc" by noting that "if there is a country artist more ill served by her CD inventory than is Dolly Parton, no name comes immediately to mind." Fortunately, reissues go some distance in addressing the problem, revealing both the strengths and weaknesses of the Country Music Hall Of Famer's career during the pivotal decade of the 1970's.

"Coat Of Many Colors" (1971) showed a young woman emerging from the shadow of a better known musical and business partner to reveal a strikingly individual voice and a no less unique approach to songwriting. More than half of the songs here were written by Parton, including the title track, a classic, candid account of childhood poverty wrapped in Biblical allusion. Her voice was up front and intimate-sounding, even when she turned it loose on the high notes and the production was often spare and restrained, nicely framing songs that retained the simplicity of traditional country even as they addressed unusual subjects or offered twists on common ones. Though her writing and more than occasional instrumental touches showed she listened to more than just country, this was obviously conceived of and marketed as an album for a country audience.