Dolly Parton

Just Because I'm a Woman

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Just Because I'm a Woman was Dolly Parton's first album for RCA Victor after a few modest hits for Monument and (more importantly) becoming a regular on Porter Wagoner's television show and his frequent duet partner both on-stage and in the studio. One might have figured that, between Chet Atkins' trademark "countrypolitan" production style and Wagoner's influence, Parton's musical personality would be lost in the shuffle, but thankfully quite the opposite was true -- Just Because I'm a Woman turned out to be one of Parton's best early albums, and a superb showcase for her gifts as both a singer and songwriter. Bob Ferguson, Atkins' second-in-command at RCA, took a subdued and natural approach to the production, with a refined but organic honky tonk sound dominating many of the arrangements, though he knew when to take a more ambitious approach on the dark tale of adultery and abandonment "The Bridge." And while Dolly only gets songwriting credit on four of the album's 12 songs, they're four of the real standouts, including "You're Gonna Be Sorry," "The Bridge," and the title tune, with the rest of the selections fitting Parton's trademark blend of fragility and strength just right, and her versatile soprano voice displaying the confidence, power, and emotional range that would make her a country superstar within a few years. While Parton was not always well-served by the Nashville music factories (ironically enough, this became an even bigger problem for her after she crossed over to mainstream stardom), Just Because I'm a Woman was one of those rare examples of the bigwigs getting it right the first time out, and the album still sounds like a winner decades after its initial release.

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