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The Fairest of Them All

Dolly Parton

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Album Review

The Fairest of Them All lacks any of Dolly Parton’s early masterpieces — and it even lacks a major hit single, with the opening “Daddy Come and Get Me” getting no further than 40 on the charts — but song-for-song it’s one of her strongest early LPs, a testament to her knack for creating finely-honed character sketches and vignettes. Perhaps the best known of these is “Down from Dover,” which Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood would soon cut and Dolly later revived; it’s a haunting, exquisitely told tale of a pregnant teenager and it’s at once the peak and the anomaly of the album, crystallizing Dolly’s eye for detail but departing somewhat from the spirited country and bluegrass of the rest of the record. As such, it’s the most obvious example of the depth of Dolly’s work here but the rest of The Fairest of Them All carries a similar lasting power, her stories of heartbroken survivors drawn with precision and delivered with bustling, soulful arrangements that can sometimes camouflage the pain.

Biography

Born: 19 January 1946 in Locust Ridge, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It's difficult to find a country performer who has moved from her country roots to international fame more successfully than Dolly Parton. Her autobiographical single "Coat of Many Colors" shows the poverty of growing up one of 12 children on a rundown farm in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. At 12 years old, she was appearing on Knoxville television; at 13 she was recording on a small label and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Her 1967 hit "Dumb Blonde" (which she's not) caught Porter Wagoner's ear, and...
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