Better Day - Dolly Parton
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. 91
    In the midst of hard economic times, the positive anthems that fill Better Day - all new material, no covers - come off as brilliant strategy, with some equally brilliant vocal performances.
  2. Jun 28, 2011
    88
    Parton's irrepressible personality is the star attraction, and on Better Day it shines.
  3. Dec 9, 2011
    80
    Parton has never sounded fresher or more spirited, and with "Somebody's Missing You" in particular, she shows she still knows how to write a timeless song.
  4. Aug 16, 2011
    80
    Parton's 41st studio LP sparkles with the enthusiasm of a debut.
  5. Jul 5, 2011
    80
    Better Day is among her most stridently upbeat albums, a feisty antidote to uncertain times.
  6. Jun 27, 2011
    80
    The songs are all hers, and they cover a lot of ground: falling in and out of love, taking umbrage, carrying on.
  7. Jun 30, 2011
    78
    The album's dozen story songs-11 penned solely by Parton-are filled with uplifting sentiment and words of encouragement set against a variety of backdrops, most of them deeply rooted in country traditions rather than acquiescing to radio demands.
  8. Jun 29, 2011
    75
    Downhome but polished, Parton and producer Kent Wells create an often pop-country gem that empowers as it punches country radio's cliches with a freshness that says "real country is more engaging than warmed over AC and AOR with fiddles on it."
  9. A stonking collection of slick honky-tonk pop, the belting Stadium Nashville of 'Together You And I' shows Taylor Swift a thing or three, while 'Shine Like The Sun' and 'The Sacrifice' are pure Mumfords meets Miley Cyrus.
  10. Jul 21, 2011
    70
    Her daydreaming music doesn't have that much of a tolerance for daydreamers, actually. This is humanist, open-arms songwriting with a get-to-work-everybody mentality.
  11. Jul 6, 2011
    67
    Even the weaker parts of Better Day are Dolly through and through, and if you don't like it, you know what you can kiss.
  12. Sep 8, 2011
    60
    Dolly steps up as America's cheerleader, to help fight the recession blues. [Oct 2011, p.100]
  13. Aug 25, 2011
    60
    The melodies aren't as strong as those on Backwoods Barbie but Dolly Parton's wit, sincerity and plucky pragmatism allow her to get away with simplistic advice like: "Lead the good life, just treat this planet right and try to all be friends" and icky lines about painting pretty rainbows in the sky.
  14. Aug 22, 2011
    60
    Dolly has invited you to her hoe-down, and it would be churlish to refuse. Just remember to leave your brain at the barn door.
  15. Aug 18, 2011
    60
    Biblical parable and bumptious force-of-nature feminism, ensure Better Day fulfills its upbeat mission. [Sep 2011, p.93]
  16. 60
    Forty-four years as a recording artist have not diminished Parton's sass.
  17. Jul 26, 2011
    60
    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."
  18. Jul 26, 2011
    60
    Dolly's high lonesome Tennessee drawl carries nearly five decades' worth of hitmaking history, and lord knows how many centuries worth of Smoky Mountains folk wisdom.
  19. Jun 30, 2011
    40
    Best are her vocals – as strong, clear and distinct as ever – and the energy she infuses into the songs. If she's grown tired of her shtick, you'd never guess it.
User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jul 2, 2011
    10
    This is a great album for Dolly. Its original and surprisingly addictive. Dolly is still here and she's not going anywhere. The only flaw wasThis is a great album for Dolly. Its original and surprisingly addictive. Dolly is still here and she's not going anywhere. The only flaw was her first single from the album. Full Review »
  2. Jul 1, 2011
    9
    A surprisingly good album from Dolly, especially considering that the first single "Together You and I" wasn't too good (it is tooA surprisingly good album from Dolly, especially considering that the first single "Together You and I" wasn't too good (it is too over-produced and Dolly's voice is drowned out). This is not indicative of the album as a whole though, which has a very unique sound (reminiscent of her bluegrass/country sound on "Hungry Again" and "Little Sparrow). Indeed, "Just Leaving," the second track from "Better Day," is as good as "Shine" from Little Sparrow, a song which earned her a Grammy nomination. Her duet with Kent Wells ("Holding Everything") is a runaway success as well, and it deserves to be a hit. Her voice sounds so wonderful on this track, and she sounds so happy and in her element. The vocal harmonies of "Just Leaving," where Dolly is joined by Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, are also a highlight of this album.

    "The Sacrifice" articulates Dolly's new sound the best, I feel: It's modern country (the much billed "return to the mainstream") but tinged with a rootsy/bluegrass quality that gives it a noticeable edge from the mixture of sounds that were found on Backwoods Barbie.

    Not everything works: "Country is as Country Does," and the blues/gospel "Better Day" are nothing special, and her versions of the 9 to 5 tracks that occupy the end of the album are a bit hit and miss (the exception being "Let Love Grow," which is a wonderful conclusion to the album).
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 19, 2011
    10
    I didn't think Dolly Parton could get any better. Boy was I WRONG. This album is a MUST for all country music fans. The positive and upbeatI didn't think Dolly Parton could get any better. Boy was I WRONG. This album is a MUST for all country music fans. The positive and upbeat messages are genuine and heart-felt. Parton delivers with clear, stunning vocals that have stood the test of time. Like a good wine, her voice seems to mellow and become even better to the pallet. It is a shame that mainstream country radio are not playing this type of material. I think the whole world would be a little bit better off with a daily dose of Ms. Parton's positive and uplifting perspective. Dolly, as long as you keep putting out this type of original material, I'll keep listening. Full Review »