Dolly Parton, the queen of resilience and versatility, has embarked on a bold musical journey with her latest release, “Rockstar.” This 30-song rock album takes you on a wild ride through rock classics and contemporary hits, creating a star-studded collection that feels like the most extravagant karaoke party of the millennium.

Parton’s journey to “Rockstar” began with her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022, which initially caused her hesitation to accept in order to avoid controversy. However, the experience, which included a memorable performance of “Jolene” with fellow artists, inspired her to venture into the realm of rock music. The result is a dense collection featuring covers of iconic songs by Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, and Peter Frampton, among others.

Parton’s approach to rock on this album is unapologetically maximalist, with arena-sized guitars, keys, and drums consistently turned up to 11, and formulaic arrangements overshadowing the nuanced details that made the originals noteworthy. While some of the renditions may oscillate between boilerplate and perplexing, Parton’s creativity and whimsical storytelling shine through. The album’s eclectic mix of covers and originals adds a unique chapter to her legendary career.

In spite of its maximalist approach, “Rockstar” grapples with subtextual complexities. While guest appearances from queer artists like Linda Perry, Melissa Etheridge, and Brandi Carlile hint at inclusivity, their contributions coexist with figures like Steven Tyler and Kid Rock, whose controversial backgrounds raise questions about the album’s overall impact. Nonetheless, “Rockstar” is a captivating journey through time and genre, blending rock classics with contemporary hits, and is sure to become a favorite for all Dolly Parton fans.

Best Songs:

  • “What Has Rock & Roll Ever Did To You” with Stevie Nicks
  • “Open Arms” with Steve Perry
  • “Baby I Love Your Way” with Peter Frampton
  • “I Hate Myself For Loving You” with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
  • “Stairway to Heaven” with Lizzo
  • “What’s Up?” with Linda Perry
  • “Let It Be” with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr

Songs to Skip:

  • “Either Or” with Kid Rock
  • “Wrecking Ball” with Miley Cyrus