Better Day by Dolly Parton

While Dolly Parton has penned albums full of songs with the most heart-wrenching lyrics (“Daddy Come and Get Me,” “Jolene,” “Traveling Man”) throughout her multidecade career, in recent years she’s put aside the poetic, stark lyrics in favor of more uplifting material, and Better Day easily falls into step.

The album starts out with the cheery yet bluesy, harmonica-driven “In the Meantime,” an admonishment to focus more on how we spend our days on Earth, rather than fretting over when the days will end. Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss guest on the subdued and gorgeous “Somebody’s Missing You.” Dolly revels in being a country girl anytime, anywhere on “Country Is as Country Does,” while the romantic and soaring “Holding Everything,” featuring her producer, Kent Wells, is one of the highlights of the album. Dolly is open about her lifelong ambition to become a star on the banjo-inflected “The Sacrifice,” and her distinctive soprano grows bluesy on the title track.

Overall, these songs are safe, inoffensive and respectable, but they simply don’t quite scale the same musical heights of Dolly’s former glories such as “Jolene” or “I Will Always Love You.”

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