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Dolly Parton- Burns & Poe- Jonny Burke

Dolly Parton
Better Day

Dolly Records

Her roots are firmly planted in an era where she wouldn't dream of singing about honky-tonk badonkadonks and her penchant for traditional country music may distance a youthful audience that could buy her records by the millions. Still there's little doubt that Dolly Parton is truly one of America's sweethearts and a new release from her is always worthy of attention. Better Day is no exception as Parton tours the land-o'-old timey-country, beginning with the sassy and rollicking live-for-today-and-quit-complaining anthem "In the Meantime" before moving on to the bluegrass offering "Just Leaving" and "Somebody's Missing You," a soft lullaby-like number with nearly-whispered and heartbroken vocals. "Country is as Country Does" is a fast hillbilly shuffle with a pounding Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano line while "Better Day" is a gospel-tinged blues that echoes the message of "In the Meantime." Parton is definitely at her best when she's country to the bone and this album's slower moments come when she strays from that mode but overall this latest kiss from a favorite country cousin should be greeted with mutual affection.

Burns & Poe

Blue Shield Records

Move over Tim McGraw and Faith Hill; here comes Keith Burns and Michelle Poe! As with a lot of young country acts, Burns & Poe infuse their music with rock overtones and the raucous "Don't Get No Better Than That," with Burns on lead vocals, mines the same vein that gave John Mellencamp a mother lode of hits. Poe takes the mic for "How Long is Long Enough," a country-rocker that pays homage to the Eagles, complete with a raspy-voiced Burns doing his best Don Henley on background vocals. This set is a generous 2-CD offering with the first disc featuring either Burns or Poe on lead vocals while the second disc is composed of duets that have the two trading lines in a way that some compare to Sonny & Cher; that's not a completely accurate description but a listen to the jangly "Move On" reveals a distinct resemblance.

Jonny Burke
Distance and Fortune


Burke is a Texas-twangin' guitar-slingin' singer with a sound that sometimes recalls the Black Crowes and the influence is especially noticeable on "Come Stand." Not coincidentally the album is produced by Crowes producer Marc Ford who also plays on the album. Ford doesn't restrict Burke to the Crowes nest though; "You Wear it So Well" sounds like Steve Earle doing his best Dylan impersonation. Burke slows it down occasionally but he's at his best burning up his fret board as he does on the fast dancin' "Cracka Jack."

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