With all the other accomplishments and accolades Dolly Parton has racked up over her illustrious career, she can now add “novelist” to the list with the recent release of the book. Run, Rose, Run co-written with bestselling author James Patterson. About a rising star singing about the difficult life she left behind, main character Rose travels to Nashville to claim her destiny, but also finds the darkness she fled waiting for her in Music. City and seeks to destroy its aspirations.
Accompanying the novel, Dolly Parton also wrote and recorded this album, Run, Rose, Run. And that’s how you should consider this album: an accompaniment to the novel, and not the other way around. Quite cinematic and theatrical in their approach, instead of being populated by songs with autonomous or original inspirations, they are musical complements to certain moments in the written narrative, similar to what one would expect from a film or a a musical for children, although the themes are more situated in the domain of young adults.
You don’t have to read the novel or listen to the audiobook version to enjoy some of the best selections from this album. It’s always worth getting excited about a guest appearance from Merle Haggard’s youngest song, Ben Haggard, and hearing him duet with Dolly on the song “Demons”, will give you chills as if hearing the ghost of the Ben’s father, and Dolly looks no older than in the 70s when Merle once booked Dolly as an usher so he could chase her on the tour bus for months.
“Woman Up (And Take It Like A Man)” is classic Dolly Parton songwriting and a great song to add to her repertoire, although it’s a bit more contemporary than classic in sound. A country album for the most part, there are opportunities for Dolly Parton to express her wide range of skills and influences, whether it’s the classic country sound of “Lost and Found” with another great country vocal from Joe Nichols , or the blazing bluegrass of “Dark Night, Bright Future”, backed by a small snare drum and electric guitar – one of many bluegrass-inspired songs on the album featuring members of The Isaacs and Daily & Vincent.
If nothing else, the selections mentioned above do Run, Rose, Run worth researching, although in the 12-song list there are also songs that struggle to stand on their own by clinging to a single theme, or are a bit too obvious and repetitive in the writing, or who are plagued by strange production decisions.
The opening song “Run” can’t help but say “Run” to the point of redundancy. The IIIII – IIII-I of “Drive” can drive you crazy, while the rest of the words deal with platitudes as opposed to poetry. “Snakes In the Grass” sounds downright silly and, like most of the songs on this album, unfolds in those repetitive motions and obvious intentions that you usually only hear on soundtracks of children’s movies.
Run, Rose, Run fundamentally East a soundtrack though, and don’t be surprised if this project evolves into some sort of movie or theatrical production in the future, with those songs playing a big part and making more sense in context. But still, some selections from the album get bogged down because of the approach. With a song like “Secrets,” it’s so easy to question the antiquated keyboard and guitar tone of the album’s co-producer, Richard Dennison, who sometimes seems to think he’s making music for a special after the event. school of the 80s, as opposed to a national mainstream.
Run, Rose, Run deserves to be ranked on a curve, because again, this is an add-on to a novel, not a standalone feature film. But even without going through the love we all have in our hearts for everything and anything Dolly Parton, Run, Rose, Run includes some quality songs and collaborations that shouldn’t be overlooked, though that doesn’t necessarily make you rush to get a copy of the novel and dig your nose into it in a hurry.
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