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ALBUM REVIEW

Dolly Parton: “Better Day’’

By James Reed
Globe Staff / July 5, 2011

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Through it all - from country gal to pop star to global icon - Dolly Parton’s belief in the power of optimism has never waned. From the very beginning, her most bittersweet songs (“Coat of Many Colors,’’ “I Will Always Love You’’) have been tales of redemption and survival. “Better Day’’ is among her most stridently upbeat albums, a feisty antidote to uncertain times. With the fervor of a silver-tongued preacher, Parton outlines her sermon on the opening track: “Well, nobody knows when the end is coming/ But some people tell you they do,’’ she sings on “In the Meantime,’’ effectively dismissing doomsayers such as Harold Camping. “Together You and I,’’ an old duet with her late singing partner Porter Wagoner, gets spiffed up into something shiny and new, a glossy country ballad you might expect from Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, Parton takes the title track to a blues bar and then right back to church for a rollicking country-gospel finish. On “Country Is as Country Does,’’ Parton offers a refrain that might as well be on her business card: “Country is as country does/ It’s the way I am/ And it’s the way I was/ And the way I’ll be until they lay me low.’’ (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “Better Day’’