The ’80s were tough on country’s confectionary sweetheart. Dolly adopted a crossover strategy that succeeded almost too well. It resulted in a movie career, pop-flavored hits, TV specials and superstar status, but by the time her short-lived ABC variety show was canceled, in 1988, the distractions seemed to have stranded one of country’s purest and sweetest voices. With this impressive album, Dolly has come home.
The journey back actually began two albums ago, with White Limozeen (1989). Then Eagle When She Flies (1991), an underrated gem, announced her rebirth as a songwriter. For Slow Dancing, Dolly sensibly retained the services of Eagle coproducer Steve Buckingham and wrote or cowrote eight of the 12 songs.
“Romeo,” the first single and video, got all the early attention—thanks to the participation of Great American Hunk Billy Ray Cyrus, as a growling male sex object who is subjected to leering catcalls by Dolly and sidekicks Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea and Tanya Tucker. This equal-opportunity misbehavior is the most memorable thing about “Romeo.”
Most of the album shines. Dolly’s voice has always been pristine, but there has sometimes been a touch of stiffness or stridency in her delivery. It’s great to hear her swinging as joyfully as she does on “More Where That Came From,” an up-tempo come-on as generous as her figure. The title track, written for her by Mac Davis, and the opener, “Full Circle,” both recall the freshness of Dolly’s early autobiographical songs. She’s come full circle indeed. (Columbia)