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Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critic Reviews What's this?

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6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

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  • Summary: The 43rd full-length studio release for the country singer-songwriter was self-produced and features songs with writing credited solely to her.
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  • Record Label: Sony Music
  • Genre(s): Country, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Country, Country-Folk, Progressive Country, Honky Tonk, Traditional Country
  • More Details and Credits »

Top Track

Tomorrow Is Forever
Take my hand and run with me Out of the past of yesterday And walk with me into the future of tomorrow Yesterday must be forgot No looking back no... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. 91
    Sure, Pure + Simple doesn’t have an instant classic like Parton’s 1973 standard “I Will Always Love You.” But it shows that five decades into her career, Parton isn’t a nostalgia act—she’s still one of America’s most vital country songsmiths.
  2. Mojo
    Sep 8, 2016
    80
    The main deal here concerns a dozen new tracks, deliciously delivered in that soulful quaver of a voice. [Oct 2016, p.92]
  3. Oct 10, 2016
    80
    As she breezes past 70, the mood of Dolly’s songs is inevitably nostalgic and retrospective.
  4. Aug 18, 2016
    60
    While the best moments prove the country queen is still at the top of her game, missteps like spoken word breaks add unneeded cheese, and Pure & Simple isn't all that thematically diverse.
  5. Aug 19, 2016
    60
    Pure & Simple is at best a middle shelf release in Parton's discography.
  6. Aug 19, 2016
    60
    Generally tasteful and acoustic, Dolly Parton's 43rd studio album is most effective at its most effortless, as when she breezes with contented charm through the title track's celebration of uncomplicated love. But the legend stumbles when she tries too hard to be cute.
  7. 40
    Pure & Simple sticks for the most part to an agreeable neo-traditional approach.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Aug 19, 2016
    8
    Well, I turn 26 today, but the BIG news is that Dolly Parton’s new album “Pure & Simple” has finally arrived! It’s a sweet little set of songsWell, I turn 26 today, but the BIG news is that Dolly Parton’s new album “Pure & Simple” has finally arrived! It’s a sweet little set of songs all about love. All different kinds of love. Pure love, cheating love, forever love, new and lustful love. The standout tracks (even though they’re all stunning) are “Pure & Simple”, “Outside Your Door”, and “Can’t Be That Wrong”. The simple production of the songs keeps the focus on Dolly’s amazing vocals, just as perfect as they’ve ever been, and her wonderful storytelling. She wrote every song on the album. It’s classic, quintessential Dolly, showing exactly why she’s had a 50+ year career. In an ever-changing world, it’s comforting to know that Dolly Parton is a constant. Thanks for the best birthday present I could’ve asked for, Dolly!

    Pure & Simple 9/10
    Say Forever You’ll Be Mine 8/10
    Never Not Love You 7/10
    Kiss It (And Make It All Better) 7/10
    Can’t Be That Wrong 7/10
    Outside Your Door 10/10
    Tomorrow Is Forever 8/10
    I’m Sixteen 7/10
    Head Over High Heels 7/10
    Forever Love 6/10
    BONUS TRACKS:
    Mama 6/10
    Lovin’ You 8/10
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  2. Sep 1, 2016
    8
    Dolly Parton's latest offering, her 43rd album "PURE & SIMPLE" will make my year end list as one of the best country albums of the year.

    No
    Dolly Parton's latest offering, her 43rd album "PURE & SIMPLE" will make my year end list as one of the best country albums of the year.

    No frills, no modern electronica (c)rap fuss; actually the title sums it up: simplicity, no over-production, let the pure songs - everyone of them written by her - speak for themselves and let her vocals shine. Dolly was also at the helm and self-produced "PURE & SIMPLE" with the help of her touring musicians and frequent collaborators Richard Dennison and Tom Rutledge.

    The septuagenarian is in fine form, the range is still here and she's still Dolly, sensual and passionate. Married for over 50 years to Carl Dean, a renewal of their vows took place earlier this year, it's only fitting that Dolly releases an album consisting mostly of love songs.

    Two of the ten songs are remakes of old Top Ten Country Singles hits Dolly had together with Porter Wagoner "Tomorrow Is Forever" (#9/1970) from "PORTER WAYNE & DOLLY REBECCA" and the title track from her 12th duet album with her early mentor "Say Forever You'll Be Mine" (#5/1975). Latter one is a pure delight, just simply Dolly's voice, a guitar (Rutledge) and a Jimmy Mattingly's fiddle. Other country or roots instrumentation include Mandolin (Mattingly), banjo (Rutledge) and master Paul Franklin on five songs playing wonderful steel guitar.

    The opener and title track "Pure & Simple" with its arrangement of mandolin and steel guitar reminds me a bit of the Trio sessions Dolly did together with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt in 1987. (A remastered 3CD set, with unreleased and alternate versions of these and the 1999 sessions will be available September 9.) Funny to hear Dolly Parton in "Never Not Love You" with its subtle banjo picking, sing: I might not be in fashion, might not be all that smart; Might not be that good lookin’, not someone set apart." As she is quoted for a long time, it "takes a lot of money to look that cheap," yes it may, but behind this blonde rags-to-riches Tennessee gal, is a savvy business woman with a huge heart for charities. "Kiss It (And Make It All Better)" is a cool duet with Richard Dennison, as kisses helped heal scratches when we were little kids, they now fix a broken heart.

    That's where the album takes a break from love songs and offers two love gone wrong or cheating tunes. "Can't Be That Wrong" references in lyrics only to two old hits, the Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) penned "Torn Between Two Lovers" - a #1-hit for Mary McGregor - and "I Don’t Want To Be Right If Lovin’ You Is Wrong” written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson, a hit for Luther Ingram but recorded by everybody from Bobby Blue Bland to Barbara Mandrell. The songwriting is superb and reflects the old dichotomy between sin or temptation and salvation which was always a central theme in traditional country music writing:
    "To Hell with Heaven if it means I’ll lose you, Anything that feels this right can’t be that wrong. It just can’t be."
    While in "Outside Your Door" the cheating part is only mentioned in one line "Might not be the right thing to do, But I swear it doesn’t feel wrong" it deals with the same theme, but has an uptempo almost frolic feel to it and the "sinner" is drawn back again and again to his/her lover.
    Age is only a number and when you're in love you can feel like a teenager again, observes Dolly in the fun, groovy romp "I'm Sixteen." And Dolly does take us back to the old "golden" but also cliched days with pop culture references to the almost all by now gone movie drive ins and the disappearing Tastee Freez restaurants; as well as with a line out of the Beach Boys 1964 top ten hit "Fun, Fun, Fun" "till the daddy takes the T-Bird away." The young innocence of having a little hump on the backseat of a car or to go skinny-dipping in the mill pond off the town, just adds up to the fun Dolly is spreading in this little tune. "Head Over High Heels" is probably the most "modern" sounding track and a true barnstormer for love. A lot subtler, but to a certain degree kitschy comes with the closer "Forever Love" and its lush strings.

    As a summary - I miss some of Dolly's stronger songwriting and storytelling - "Can't Be That Wrong" and "I'm Sixteen" being the exception. Best tracks include the title track, the remake of "Say Forever You'll Be Mine," while "Head Over High Heels" and "I'm Sixteen" should get some wishful airplay on the radio. Basically it's over a half an hour of good to great country music and will not only delight hardcore Dolly Parton fans.

    The album is available in several packages, the regular 10song album (available everywhere), Walmart offers two extra tracks “Mama” & “Lovin' You” plus a compilation Greatest Hits disc. US restaurant chain Cracker Barrel has an extensive booklet that comes with P&S as well as two love recordings from 2014, “Jolene” and “9 To 5,” recorded live in the UK at the Glastonbury Festival where she performed in front of over 100'000 people
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