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Backwoods Barbie

Backwoods Barbie

4.5 25
by Dolly Parton
Following an incredibly fruitful three-album tenure with Sugar Hill, Dolly Parton makes a much-ballyhooed, and ultimately successful, return to the country mainstream with Backwoods Barbie. But make no mistake -- it's a return on her own terms, as she wrote and largely produced the album for her own newly formed label. Typical of her best work, Parton delivers


Following an incredibly fruitful three-album tenure with Sugar Hill, Dolly Parton makes a much-ballyhooed, and ultimately successful, return to the country mainstream with Backwoods Barbie. But make no mistake -- it's a return on her own terms, as she wrote and largely produced the album for her own newly formed label. Typical of her best work, Parton delivers meaningful songs with panache, conviction, and commanding style, in both songs and arrangements. A strong streak of vulnerability surfaces via lush production touches and Dolly's soaring, aching vocals -- landing a visceral punch with her accounts of a heart bruised, battered, betrayed, and broken. These range from the torch-style, bluesy wailing of "Made of Stone" to the woozy, late-night country blues of "The Lonesomes" to the bitter reflections articulated in the honky tonk-flavored, pedal steel-rich screed "I Will Forever Hate Roses." The Fine Young Cannibals' hit "Drive Me Crazy" is a techno-country fusion that's likely a showstopper in concert, but it's one of Dolly's lesser cover choices, lacking the lyrical and musical depth of her re-imagining of "Stairway to Heaven" on 2002's Halos & Horns or, going back to 1977, New Harvest...First Gathering's country-disco arrangement of Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" (better than mere words can suggest). On the other hand, Dolly returns, gloriously, to the Smokey Robinson songbook (see the aforementioned 1977 release for her version of "My Girl") for a delicious southern country-soul treatment of "Tracks of My Tears," a beautifully realized production that blends the best elements of Smokey's and Johnny Rivers's hit versions with Dolly's impeccable sense of the lyrics' emotional shadings. The title track is a winning, stone-country, personal ballad in the "Coat of Many Colors" mold in which Dolly asserts, "I might look artificial but where it counts I'm real." Never doubted, not for a second.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
It's been three years since Dolly Parton released a new album, and nearly two decades since she put out anything close to a mainstream country offering, so Backwoods Barbie ought to get some serious media attention, although it remains to be seen whether the now 62-year-old Parton will get much play on the new country stations. The first single from the album, the cloyingly wise "Better Get to Livin'," is certainly catchy enough, but the fact remains that Parton's voice isn't quite what it used to be and she wasn't exactly Patsy Cline in the first place. What she is, and has been all these years, is a true iconic presence in country music, a shrewd marketer, an astute businesswoman (Backwoods Barbie appears from her own Dolly Records), and a frequently brilliant if understated songwriter (nine of the 12 tracks here are Parton originals). Unlike her last couple of albums, which were bluegrass-based, she isn't trying to reinvent herself here, but works in her usual pop and country hybrid style (even tenderly covering Smokey Robinson's "The Tracks of My Tears"), not trying too hard to be contemporary, although the production touches are there (the album was co-produced by Parton and her bandleader, guitarist Kent Wells), certainly, and her version of Betsy Ulmer and Craig Wiseman's "Jesus & Gravity," even more than "Better Get to Livin'," could well find itself in regular rotation on new country radio stations, at least in a fair and equitable world. Other highlights here include the title song, which shows Parton still in tune with her public image (she really always has been, of course), and the beautiful and delicate original "Only Dreamin'," which shows that, beneath all the big wigs and glamour, Parton is still a fine songwriter with an uncommon sense of grace, economy, and wisdom. Backwoods Barbie might not break the bank out there, and it would take a good deal of marketing and luck for any of these tracks to hit the top of the new country charts, but it shows that Parton can still deliver the package in fine style and only the fools among us would ever count her down and out, no matter how many bluegrass albums she does.
Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
Penning most of the material, she offers radio-friendly pep talks (in ''Better Get to Livin','' she declares, ''I'm not the Dalai Lama, but I'll try to offer up a few words of advice'') and '70s-style adultery laments (''She'll know you've been with me alone, and I'm a scent you can't take home,'' she croons in ''Cologne''). [B+]

Product Details

Release Date:
Dolly Records


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dolly Parton   Primary Artist,Vocals,Background Vocals
Rhonda Vincent   Background Vocals
Lloyd Green   Steel Guitar
Terry Eldredge   Background Vocals
David Angell   Violin
Sam Bacco   Percussion
Mike Brignardello   Bass,Bass Guitar
Terry Crisp   Steel Guitar
David Davidson   Violin
Richard Dennison   Background Vocals
Connie Ellisor   Violin
Paul Franklin   Guitar,Steel Guitar
Carl Gorodetzky   Violin
Jim Grosjean   Viola
Vicki Hampton   Background Vocals
Paul Hollowell   Organ,Piano,Keyboards,Hammond Organ,fender rhodes,Yamaha Keyboards,Hammond B3
Carl Jackson   Background Vocals
Anthony LaMarchina   Cello
Brent Mason   Electric Guitar
Jimmy Mattingly   Fiddle,Mandolin
Jerry McPherson   Electric Guitar
John Mock   Harmonium,Bodhran,tin whistle
Jennifer O'Brien   Background Vocals
Hargus "Pig" Robbins   Piano
Pamela Sixfin   Violin
Steve Turner   Percussion,Drums
Alan Umstead   Violin
Catherine Umstead   Violin
Gary VanOsdale   Viola
Mary Kathryn Van Osdale   Violin
Biff Watson   Acoustic Guitar
Lonnie Wilson   Percussion,Drums
Aubrey Haynie   Fiddle,Mandolin
Darrin Vincent   Background Vocals
Kent Wells   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Sonya Isaacs   Background Vocals
Billy Davis   Background Vocals
Monisa Angell   Viola
Derek Wells   Electric Guitar
Karen Winkelmann   Violin
Bryan Sutton   Acoustic Guitar
Janet Askey   Violin
Tom Bukovac   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Carole Rabinowitz-Neuen   Cello
Jamie Johnson   Background Vocals
Carolyn Bailey   Violin
Alecia Nugent   Background Vocals
Marty Slayton   Background Vocals
Rob McNelley   Electric Guitar
Steve Mackey   Bass,Bass Guitar
Sarighani Reist   Cello
Zeneba Bowers   Violin
Kirsten Cassell   Cello
Chris Farrell   Viola
Christine Winslow   Background Vocals
Rebecca Isaacs Bowman   Background Vocals
Dave Talbot   Banjo

Technical Credits

Dolly Parton   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Kris Wilkinson String Section   String Arrangements
Warren "Pete" Moore   Composer
Stephen Shareaux   Conceptual Assistance
David Steele   Composer
Steve Summers   Conceptual Assistance
Kristin Wilkinson   Arranger
Craig Wiseman   Composer
William Robinson   Composer
Roland Gift   Composer
Kent Wells   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Marvin Tarplin   Composer
Kii Arens   Art Direction
Patrick Murphy   Engineer
Robert Behar   Costume Design
Betsy Ulmer   Composer
Kyle Dickinson   Engineer
Warren Moore   Composer

Customer Reviews

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Backwoods Barbie 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolly Parton is one of those artists that inspires a following that often comes across as completely uncritical -- as if the woman walks on water and can do absolutely no wrong. This is actually understandable to a certain extent because the woman exudes tons of charm. She's smart, gracious, has a big heart and a wonderful sense of humor that she often turns on herself with aplomb. But there is a downside to all of this in that she often seems to have this yearning to be all things to all people and this has shown over the very uneven course of her career over the past 30 years. Her move into the pop world certainly paid off with lots of commercial success, but it came at a cost to the artistic integrity that made her such a treasure in the first place. This was what made her return to her roots with a string of albums over the past 10 years or so, so remarkable. Dolly had returned to us from the pop world unscathed. Which is why this album is such a frustrating let down. We have a set of songs that are, in of of themselves, OK but presented in a slick presentation that would have been very radio friendly a quarter of a century ago. As a consequence everything just seems, well, disposable. This might be a solid album for somebody like Shania Twain, but Dolly should be held to a higher standard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply the best. Dolly never disappoints. She is better than ever in this album. If you Love music you will LOVE Dolly!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WOW! This is Dolly as we haven't seen (heard) in quite some time. She takes the talent of writing music and puts it to beautiful music and makes us feel, and believe, we are living her story. It is truly quintessential Dolly. The melodies, the story lines, the passion in her voice. A must have for any country music fan. Great Job Miss Dolly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Backwoods Barbie is one of Dolly's most exciting albums in years. The album is a great mix of new songs which exhibits many of Dolly's various music styles that we have all come to love over the years. Stand out tunes include Better Get to Livin', Jesus and Gravity and Backwoods Barbie (from the upcoming Broadway musical 9 to 5).
Guest More than 1 year ago
First off, let me announce that I'm a big Dolly fan. Have been since I sat in the first row of a Dolly and Porter concert (well, it might have been billed as a Porter and Dolly concert) at the county fair -- oh, about 35 years ago! But that doesn't discount what a great, great cd this is. I love the story line in "Backwoods Barbie", reminiscent of the classic "Coat Of Many Colors", as well as the catchy melody. Her heartbreak shows in "Made Of Stone" and in the two-sides-to-every-story, her portrayal as the other woman in "Cologne". But the one I catch myself singing to myself is "Jesus and Gravity" -- "something lifting me up, something holding me down..." Her voice is as strong and clear as ever. She says it all in the title track "even Backwoods Barbies deserve a second chance". If you've written Dolly off already, give her that chance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolly is better than ever!!! A solid masterpiece!!! Better Get To Livin' and buying this cd!!! You will not regret it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Backwoods Barbie" is great. Two of the songs alone, Better Get to Livin' and Drives Me Crazy, are worth the CD's price!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is fantastic, once you play it you cannot stop. a great new album from the queen of country. If you liked Dolly in the past then you'll love this new episode of this perfect ladies carrier. An absolute must.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Backwoods Barbie is truly one of Dolly's best albums ever! From the classic country of title track, remniscent of the Coat of Many Colors era, to the poppy remake of Drives Me Crazy, this album will appeal to any country music fan. Dolly wrote most of the songs herself, which makes it even better! It's a must have!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although many people think Dolly has been gone from the music scene, she's been recording critically-acclaimed bluegrass albums and touring the United States and Europe over the last decade. Dolly has hit paydirt and returned to country music with this CD. The songs are well crafted (9 are Parton originals), and after 40+ years in the business, her voice is as strong as ever. From "Better Get to Livin'", a positive outlook anthem with a "Keith Urban" feel, to the country-folk of "Backwoods Barbie" (think modernized "Coat of Many Colors"), this CD is one hit after another. It's her best "country" effort in a very long time. She obviously and very painstakingly took her time with the writing and producing of this CD. It's been a long awaited collection, and it definitely does NOT disappoint. Country radio is going to have to sit up and take notice of this effort, and if the CD somehow gets buried at radio stations, it's not because Dolly didn't deliver.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolly just keeps getting better and better! The new Backwoods Barbie cd is a must have. I love the new songs in addition to the remakes of a couple older pop songs. Should we expect anything less from the "Queen of Country???" LOVE IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a TOTALY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CD Way to go Dolly. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Forget radio, listen to this cd! It's better and Dolly's voice is better than anything you can hear on the top 40. Dolly shines in "Cologne" and "Made of Stone", and gets down right religious in "Jesus and Gravity". She pours out her emotions in all the tracks, and gets pretty feisty in "Shinola". Excellent cd!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Dolly’s first attempt at mainstream music in years, she got it right. Loyal Dolly fans will recognize her consistent talent and style. They will love it. More important, those who may not have taken to Dolly’s past several albums will find this one a great surprise. A new generation is about to get hooked on Dolly's songs. ‘Better Get to Livin’ is an upbeat and powerful song that will resonate with many of us. This song alone justifies the album. ‘Drives me Crazy’ is a remake and brings the song to a new life. ‘Backwoods Barbie’ is the song Dolly wrote for the upcoming Broadway version of “9 to 5,” and you can see just how the song will fit into the story. I could go on and on. Dolly, you did it! I can't wait to hear you back on the airwaves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are as big of a Dolly Parton fan as i am then you have got to get this CD. I can't stop listening to it. It is awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of Dolly's best CD's. Great mixture of music and lyrics. Outstanding!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt, this country diva still has it coming. She is wonderful on this album with such a unique blend of contemporary country and renditions. I love her celtic-like songs, her Smoky Robinson cover, and flat out the entirety of everything she's done! SUPERB!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd is quite something. Standout songs are Backwoods, Shinola, Cologne, and Jesus and Gravity, but several others are superb. A touch overproduced, but you've still gotta have it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cannot put into words what an amazing CD this is - it leaves me speechless. Every single track on this CD is placed perfectly and somehow intertwine with one another - and the title track is so sweet and simply put - Dolly puts into words how she feels about how people see her image! She is such a wonderful, talented singer/songwriter and the notes float out of her effortlessly. This CD gets a 10 from me! Way to go Dolly!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolly Parton is an international music legend and icon. She is back with her first mainstream country album in 17 years. And what a delight this album is! It truly is her best album yet! You will NOT be disappointed! So many wonderful songs, well worth the price! Dolly's pure voice and amazing storytelling is at its best in "Backwoods Barbie"!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Dolly decided to return to the style that she invented, that hybrid style of country and pop, one would be curious how it was going to turn out. After years of back to basics (returning to the bluegrass/mountain music that she grew up on) she decided to give another try at being played on the "young" radio...but we all know that by now. What everyone NEEDS to know is how wonderful the final result is with Dolly's return to mainstream. Now I did see the previous review that was angry at her return mainstream and not going on with the bluegrass but as we all know, Dolly has never stayed still and I find it harsh to give the album only one star even if you don't like mainstream music since Dolly's talents deserve better than that! Nine of the twelve songs came from Dolly herself, which is a blessing and she covers two famous hits, first is Fine Young Cannibals "She Drives Me Crazy" "retitled to "Drives Me Crazy"" which many people can admit they were nervous about hearing but it turned out to be one of the most lively songs and absolutely a fun ride to listen to with the genius combination of country/bluegrass and rock. Her cover of "The Tracks of my Tears" is also a sheer delight to the ears and as always she handles each song with respect while making it her own. "Jesus & Gravity", the albums second single, was written by Nashville's Craig Wiseman and Betsy Ulmer, and Dolly handles the song with such a splendor that even the non-religious can be moved by it's message. The rest of the album is pure Dolly, "Better Get to Livin'" the first single is just pure fun. "Made of Stone", "Backwoods Barbie", "Only Dreamin'" and "Cologne" are instant classics, with their beautiful lyrics that either make you cry ("Only Dreamin', "Made of Stone", "Colonge"), understand where her outlandish image comes from (the title track) or just stop you dead and make you say, "Wow." ("Only Dreamin'" and "Cologne"). "Shinola" is beyond a doubt one of Dolly's funniest songs that she's ever written, driven by drums and stunning guitar it has lyrics such as, "Your attitude stinks/and I hate it/ Your arrogant, cocky and rude/your selfish conceded and jaded./Every thing's all about you/You think that I'm lucky to have you/You think you're so handsome, so what/I'm calling you out 'cause I don't need this crap/I'm gettin' myself out of Dodge." The other songs on the disc, "The Lonesomes", "I Will Forever Hate Roses" and "Somebody's Everything" are absolutely beautiful pieces of music, ranging from a jazzy piano bar number to a country waltz. Dolly is still, at 62, sounding as youthful as she ever has as she is still in top form. She is one of those forces of nature that you just have to sit back and watch in amazement. And only the fools consider her too old or too "much" to do anything anymore. She's still better than all of the young talent today, as she proves on this album that she can easily out do all of them by just opening her mouth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of Dolly's best. A must have for any Dolly fan
Guest More than 1 year ago
Several years ago Parton aged out of the youth obsessed radio airwaves and the result was a blessing in disguise as it freed her up to make a long overdue return to her roots. Gone was the slick, generic pop of "Here You Come Again," "Nine to Five," etc. and albums like "The Grass is Blue," and "Little Sparrow" were among the very best of her entire career. For some reason Parton seems to have fallen under the delusion that her long absence from commercial radio has made the latter's heart grow fonder and the result is her first attempt at a commercial album in many a moon. The results are tepid at best. Sure, Parton remains in fine voice but the material she attaches it to is pretty much substandard. Her cover of Fine Young Cannibals late 1980's hit "Drives Me Crazy" is just simply embarrassing. As long as the commercial radio airwaves remain in the hands of the likes of Clear Channel, and Americans remain obsessed with tripe like "American Idle" it is most unlikely any female singer over the age of 25 is going to get much in the way of airplay. Let us hope that once Dolly Parton realizes this she will return to the roots music that made much of her work over the past 10 years so compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago