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HomeUncategorizedDolly Parton Sings Billy Joel, and 8 Additional Recent Tracks

Dolly Parton Sings Billy Joel, and 8 Additional Recent Tracks


Following the release of the expanded edition — in celebration of her 78th birthday, which occurred on Friday! — Dolly Parton’s already extensive double album “Rockstar” spans almost three hours and contains an impressively large 39 tracks. This makes discovering the album’s hidden gems even more demanding, but fortunately, one particular track stands out from the plethora of newly issued bonus tracks: her elaborately arranged and profoundly emotional rendition of Billy Joel’s 1974 single “The Entertainer.” Joel’s original version was imbued with the cynicism of a young upstart — “If you’re gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05,” he sang on a sort of spiritual successor to the earlier “Piano Man” — but Parton interprets it from the opposite perspective of a lengthy career, uncovering new significance in his lyrics. “I know the game, you’ll forget my name,” she sings, imbued with a slight ache in her voice. “And I won’t be here in another year, if I don’t stay on the charts.” Considering that “Rockstar” became Parton’s highest-charting album just a few months ago, that destiny seems, fortunately, improbable. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

The unexpected collaboration of Mumford & Sons with Pharrell Williams has produced a decidedly non-folk song. After a brief introductory misdirection of acoustic guitar, it transforms into a foot-stomping, tambourine-shaking declaration of unity, revival and burgeoning strength: “Good people been down so long/And now I see the sun is rising.” Biblical references and church-choir harmonies assert a return to goodness, but leave it to the listener to determine what exactly constitutes righteousness and who the good people are. JON PARELES

The guitarist and songwriter Fabi Reyna, who headed She Shreds in the 2010s, currently records as Reyna Tropical. In “Cartagena,” from an album slated for release in March, “Malegría,” she sings about discovering unity with nature. A gently swaying beat, reverberating percussion and layers of intertwined guitars and marimbas allude to Congolese soukous as Reyna revels in “a moment of peace” and exclaims, in Spanish, “Let the environment caress me”; it emanates sheer delight. PARELES

Two Atlanta rappers — the up-and-coming talent Anycia and the reliable hitmaker Latto — unite on the bold “Back Outside,” both exuding an air of untroubled ease. Anycia’s low, relaxed rasp serves as a fitting contrast to Latto’s exuberant energy; “I don’t know how to sing, but I’m her,” Latto spits, pausing briefly as the punchline lands. ZOLADZ

Bitter cynicism — or perhaps realism? — flows through “Danzig With Myself”; the punny title stands as the only hint of humor in the song. With Frank Black (a.k.a. Black Francis) from Pixies amplifying the grunge connection, the song utilizes a blunt riff and various guitar distortions to reinforce reflections on a dystopian, disinformation-saturated era: “I can’t believe how many people want to deceive us/And I can’t believe how many people want to receive it.” PARELES

The acoustic guitarist Julian Lage has dabbled in numerous styles as a bandleader and as a collaborator with John Zorn, Charles Lloyd, and others. “76” is from “Speak to Me,” an album scheduled for release on March 1. It’s a cheerfully asymmetrical piece that rides on a bluesy riff and a backbeat from the drummer Dave King of the Bad Plus. Lage takes a few detours into modal and chromatic territories, and the pianist Kris Davis flings around free-jazz clusters, but the track never loses its rowdy roadhouse spirit. PARELES

The pairing from North Carolina known as Magic Tuber Stringband connects Appalachian tradition to Minimalism, meditation and possibly post-rock, advancing the concepts of musicians like John Fahey and Sandy Bull. In “Days of Longing,” Courtney Werner on fiddle and Evan Morgan on 12-string guitar share a waltz that transforms from a folksy warmth to distressing dissonance and finally an unresolved resolution, rejecting easy solace. PARELES

How would Philip Glass’s sound evolve with a rhythmic foundation to propel his music forward? The electronic musician Jlin offers a conclusive response in “The Precision of Infinity” from “Akoma,” an album due in March. She dissects fragments of Glass’s solo-piano arpeggios, two-note repeated phrases, and wordless vocalists, and synchronizes them with quickly changing but resolute programmed and sampled percussion, relocating his lengthy dramatic arcs into an era of fragmented attention spans. PARELES

“I felt God in your touch,” sings feeo — the English songwriter and producer Theodora Laird — in a song about sublime physical connection. Her accompaniment consists of minimal, pulsating electronic sounds that converge as chords, diverge, and realign; she exudes a sense of fulfillment, fascination, and enchantment. PARELES



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