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Various Artists

Dumplin' Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – 2018 (Sony Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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Dolly Parton's soundtrack to the movie "Dumplin'" includes a whole lot of Dolly music, both old and new. This movie tells character Sillowdean "Dumplin'" Dickson's story of participating in a local beauty pageant. The catch to this adaptation of Julie Murphy's young adult book is that Dickson is a weight-challenged girl and not the usually slender pageant participant.

Parton's music is essential to the film because Dolly is Dickson's musical idol. Many of these recordings feature special duet partners and - in the case of "If We Don't," trio partners. Although Miranda Lambert is barely noticeable while harmonizing during the re-do of "Dumb Blonde," Mavis Staples' presence is undeniable while sharing vocal duties during "Why." The most noteworthy re-recording is a new string mix version of "Jolene." With this added orchestration, the already deeply moving song takes an "Eleanor Rigby"-like dramatic turn. The bluegrass-y "If We Don't," is also particularly ear-catching, as Parton's singing partners are Rhonda Vincent and Alison Krauss, two singers that share a sometimes-eerie vocal resemblance to Parton. Odd as it may seem, though, it's still fun to hear three of modern music's best voices all singing together on one song. The Macy Gray-assisted "Two Doors Down" is significantly soul-ed up, compared to the original.

Almost any new Dolly Parton music is reason for celebration. However, with these new songs and new singing partners, this project makes a good thing even better. "Dumplin'," then, is one special celebration.