Dolly Parton Covers Billy Joel, and 8 More New Songs


Now that she’s released the deluxe edition — in honor of her 78th birthday, on Friday! — Dolly Parton’s already sprawling double album “Rockstar” runs nearly three hours long and clocks in at an indefatigably rockin’ 39 tracks. This makes finding the album’s buried treasures that much more exhausting, but luckily one sparkles out from the heap of newly released bonus tracks: her ornately arranged and deeply felt cover of Billy Joel’s 1974 single “The Entertainer.” Joel’s version was full of a young upstart’s gimlet-eyed cynicism — “If you’re gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05,” he sang on a kind of spiritual sequel to the earlier “Piano Man” — but Parton sings it from the opposite end of a long career, finding fresh meaning in his words. “I know the game, you’ll forget my name,” she sings, with a slight ache in her voice. “And I won’t be here in another year, if I don’t stay on the charts.” Given that “Rockstar” became the highest-charting album of Parton’s career just a few months ago, that fate seems, blessedly, unlikely. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

The unlikely pairing of Mumford & Sons with Pharrell Williams has yielded a decidedly un-folksy song. After a brief head-fake intro of acoustic guitar, it’s a foot-stamping, tambourine-shaking vow of solidarity, revival and burgeoning power: “Good people been down so long/And now I see the sun is rising.” Biblical language and church-choir harmonies insist on a return to righteousness, but they leave it to the listener to decide exactly what’s righteous and who the good people are. JON PARELES

The guitarist and songwriter Fabi Reyna, who led She Shreds in the 2010s, now records as Reyna Tropical. In “Cartagena,” from an album due in March, “Malegría,” she sings about finding oneness with nature. A lilting beat, ricocheting percussion and layers of intertwined guitars and marimbas hint at Congolese soukous as Reyna enjoys “a moment of peace” and exults, in Spanish, “Let the environment caress me”; it sounds like sheer delight. PARELES

Two Atlanta rappers — the rising star Anycia and the trusted hitmaker Latto — join forces on the brassy “Back Outside,” both sounding utterly unbothered. Anycia’s low, laid-back rasp provides a fitting foil for Latto’s bounding exuberance; “I don’t know how to sing, but I’m her,” Latto spits, taking a quick breath as the punchline lands. ZOLADZ

Bitter cynicism — or is it realism? — courses through “Danzig With Myself”; the punny title is the song’s only hint of comedy. With Frank Black (a.k.a. Black Francis) from Pixies to drive home the grunge connection, the song harnesses a blunt riff and all sorts of guitar noise to back observations on a dystopian, disinformation-saturated moment: “I can’t believe how many people want to deceive us/And I can’t believe how many people want to receive it.” PARELES

The acoustic guitarist Julian Lage has worked in all sorts of styles as a leader and as a sideman with John Zorn, Charles Lloyd and others. “76” is from “Speak to Me,” an album due March 1. It’s a jauntily asymmetrical tune that rides a bluesy riff and a backbeat from the drummer Dave King of the Bad Plus. Lage takes some modal and chromatic detours, and the pianist Kris Davis flings around free-jazz clusters, but the track never loses a rowdy roadhouse spirit. PARELES

The duo from North Carolina that records as Magic Tuber Stringband connects Appalachian tradition to Minimalism, meditation and perhaps post-rock, carrying forward the ideas of musicians like John Fahey and Sandy Bull. In “Days of Longing,” Courtney Werner on fiddle and Evan Morgan on 12-string guitar share a waltz that transforms itself from folksy warmth to harrowing dissonance to an unfinished resolution, refusing easy comfort. PARELES

What would Philip Glass sound like with a beat to kick his music forward? The electronic musician Jlin provides a definitive answer in “The Precision of Infinity” from “Akoma,” an album due in March. She chops up bits of Glass’s solo-piano arpeggios, two-note ostinatos and wordless singers and sets them to quick-changing but insistent programmed and sampled percussion, as she relocates his long dramatic arcs into an era of fractured attention spans. PARELES

“I felt God in your touch,” sings feeo — the English songwriter and producer Theodora Laird — in a song about sublime physical communion. Her backup is sparse, pulsing electronic sounds that come together as chords, pull apart and realign; she sounds fulfilled, fascinated and enthralled. PARELES



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