Record Review - 2 October 14 2004

From her early days as Porter Wagoner’s sidekick to becoming one of the most successful and wealthy artists in the world, Dolly Parton has always made the right decisions, and maintained control of her music, image and legacy. When mainstream country moved in a direction that left many of its legends in the dust, Parton took a giant step backward and returned to the music of her Appalachian youth — bluegrass.

Live and Well is a celebration of Parton’s recent work, captured in all its gaudy but proud glory on CD and DVD. Recorded and filmed at her theme park Dollywood, the 23 tracks are loaded heavily with bluegrass, but Parton gives some time to the string of ’70s and ’80s era pop-country hits such as “Islands in the Stream” and “Here You Come Again.” She manages to make them sound fresh by performing them a cappella in a “gospel” style with her top-notch band, the Blueniques.

Parton’s voice is still pitch-perfect, and whether doing an amazing version of her classic “Jolene” or an overblown and accidentally campy “Stairway to Heaven,” she sounds incredible. You gotta love Dolly.

-- James Kelly
Dolly Parton plays the Fox Theatre Fri., Oct. 15, 8 p.m. $47-$95.