Butterfly Records

A review of Run, Rose, Run

Dolly Parton explores a new realm of musical storytelling, albeit safely

May 5, 2022

Five years after the release of her last non-holiday album, I Believe in You, country music legend Dolly Parton added another new creative feat to her collection: the release of a novel-album crossover. Made public on March 4th, 2022, Run, Rose, Run serves as the complement music album to a novel of the same name, co-authored by Parton and James Patterson.

Patterson and Parton’s novel sets forth a narrative of an emerging country star, chasing her dreams in Nashville and traversing obstacles in the music industry.

Despite the fact that the novel’s story hinges on a developed cliché – the story of a rising star, attached to her hometown, yet searching for novelty in the big city – Parton revitalizes the story with freshness through this collection of songs.

The album’s first song (“Run”) plays to Parton’s strengths as she tells an engaging, true-hearted story. The upbeat percussion and lyrical repetition of “run” construct a scene that cleverly mimics the pointed rhythms of horse hooves beating at the ground – a gallop of sorts.

And within the album, these musical easter eggs are plentiful. For instance, some songs employ clever sound-play that contribute to a more prominent storytelling experience; “Snakes In The Grass” highlights the hiss of serpents layered between instrument tracks, while “Blue Bonnet Breeze” samples the sound of a light gusty wind. And whether intentional or not, the way Parton sings “firecracker” in the lively song of the same name sounds a whole lot like a firecracker.

Yet, perhaps the most standout single on the album is “Blue Bonnet Breeze,” which strays from the typical country sound for a more unconventional take on the genre. The song’s chord structure is the most atypical on the album, but also the most effective. The quick yet swift guitar cadences add a new layer of slow reflection to Parton’s heavily boisterous album.

Though, this is just one song on the album. While reminiscent of a nostalgic country air, Parton’s album possesses a peculiar shortcoming; out of the 12 tracks, nine of them are in the key of C major. Now, I admit I am not well-versed in the old and new conventions of country music, and this correlation could very well reflect a tradition in the industry.

Notwithstanding this, however, the mere statistic that 75% of the album’s tracks are in the same key feels a bit safe, as if many of the tracks purposefully avoid delving into the unknown. Especially for music albums today, though artists should advocate for their own style within each track, a variety in chord progressions, tempos, and styles can adorn a record with distinctive musicality, while also being a testament to an artist’s versatility.

I admit that these familiarities could just be Parton’s signature sound, and producers may have thought changing her style would make no sense for Parton and her 55-year-long career. Still, the worldwide success of “Jolene” superseded the generic stylizations of country music to which Parton adheres today – and its boldness and finesse were aptly rewarded.

Run, Rose, Run overall displays another successful addition to Parton’s sizable discography, regardless of its tendencies to play it safe. I enjoyed listening to Parton keep her music alive through the album’s songwriting and lyricism.

Ian Peiris, Online Editor-in-Chief
Senior Ian Peiris is the Online Editor-in-Chief for the 2021-2022 school year. In addition to managing the website, he oversees the Bugle's digital presence and works with other editors to boost online content. Outside of school, he is an active musician, pianist, and composer, who also happens to enjoy binging the latest Netflix dramas and streaming the latest K-pop hits.

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