I’m not sure whether this song is intended to be Ashley’s follow-up to ‘Like A Rose’, but I can certainly see it being a single at some point if not the next one to be released. The song, as the title suggests, is a tribute to the greatness of Dolly Parton and the late Porter Wagoner, who played a huge part in launching Dolly’s legendary career through his equally legendary nationally syndicated television show. Their seven years of duets won several CMA Awards and they had many chart-topping hits, before Dolly decided to leave and explore her opportunities outside Porter’s TV show.
So who better to sing about when it comes to a tongue-in-cheek duet song, that brings the song’s characters back down to reality, with great lines such as “she’s a little bit fuller, and you’re a whole lot shorter” and “I’m the reigning queen of... karaoke night”. It’s an amusing storyline that any couple can sing to each other (perhaps drunkenly), and have a good laugh, acknowledging their wishes to be the great Dolly and Porter, but also seeing where they fall very short. I think, despite his recent comments about ‘old farts and jackasses’, Blake was actually a great choice to sing with on this one. He delivers it well, with a cheeky smirk that really puts his parts across well, his sense of humor being his most famous (infamous?) personality trait.
The song is simple, both lyrically and musically, and retains the same musical grounding most of the way through, harking straight back to the sound and era that Dolly and Porter were singing in, late Nashville Sound/Countrypolitan. In fact, apart from obviously sounding a lot cleaner than the older recordings, it could well have come from that era, and I was impressed with the ambition to keep the song firmly within that era without an attempt to ‘modernize’. Characterized by a twangy electric guitar sound (of course!), and a smooth but dynamic fiddle line joining the guitar solo, with plonky piano filling in the verses. It does seem strange that Blake would choose to sing this kind of song after the comments he made, and perhaps I would go as far as to say hypocritical, considering his claim “nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music”. Well, this IS people’s grandpa’s music now, just about. So why would you make a recording you don’t think anybody wants to listen to?
Ashley’s performance is, of course, flawless, and at times her floaty tremolo reminds me of Dolly, with Blake although perhaps falling short of the great Porter, at least having the same tone of voice. Perhaps that’s why it works so well, in my opinion.
I really hope this gets released as a single, as I think country radio could do with a healthy dose of traditionalism, and the ‘kidz on the street’ these days could get a taste of what great country music sounds like. After all, I started off listening to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood when I was young, and now I love this, so perhaps exposure is key to knocking some country sense into people and showing them what’s out there. As a huge Dolly fan myself, I love this song. It’s great fun and a wonderful tribute that I’m sure if Dolly has heard she approves of.
You can pre-order Ashley Monroe’s new album ‘Like A Rose’ here (released tomorrow, March 5) and you can listen to ‘You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter) with Blake Shelton here: