Dolly Parton Reunites Two Beatles, and 12 More New Songs


Leave it to Dolly Parton to reunite the Beatles — or at least the surviving members, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr — for a rousing rendition of “Let It Be,” which will appear on her star-studded November album “Rockstar.” Accompanied by Peter Frampton on guitar and Mick Fleetwood on drums, Parton dives headfirst into the song’s reverent spiritualism, as she did on her great 2001 cover of Collective Soul’s “Shine.” Her “Let It Be” hews closer to the original arrangement, as McCartney leads the way with his memorable piano progression and Frampton lets a mid-song solo rip. Were it done with anything less than absolute conviction, the whole thing would feel like a superfluous rock star indulgence. But the earnest, serene warmth of Parton’s voice makes it work, as she enlivens one of the most familiar songs in rock history with her own particular glow. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

“Help Me” from the sleek 1974 Los Angeles pop album “Court and Spark” was Joni Mitchell’s commercial pop pinnacle — not that making hit records was ever her priority. Now, a demo from her new collection, “Archives, Vol. 3: The Asylum Years (1972-1975)” proves that the song’s wildly leaping, sliding, syncopated melody and insistent emotional argument were already clear even when her only accompaniment was her guitar. A few lyric changes, a studio band and a horn arrangement were only embellishments. JON PARELES

Now that Slash and Duff McKagan have rejoined Guns N’ Roses (who are currently on a North American stadium tour), fans are hoping that a new album will arrive faster than “Chinese Democracy” did. At the very least, they have a new single: the mid-tempo, piano-driven rocker “Perhaps.” “Perhaps I was wrong,” Axl Rose growls with uncharacteristic contrition, later adding, “My sense of rejection is no excuse for my behavior.” Is it about the band members themselves mending fences? Perhaps. But the song transcends such earthbound concerns as lyrical content once it finds its footing and crescendos into the stratosphere with a vintage Slash solo. ZOLADZ

Big beats and fractured English helped 1990s Eurodance songs scale the charts. A savvy parody, “Planet of the Bass,” by the comedian Kyle Gordon (a.k.a. DJ Crazy Times) with many collaborators, is now a full-length song after conquering TikTok. Who could argue with — or even rationally process — thoughts like, “When the rhythm is glad/there is nothing to be sad” or “Women are my favorite guy”? It’s all about momentum, so put on those sunglasses and pump up the synthesizers. Is every hit now just a joke on mass culture nostalgia? PARELES

The K-pop group aespa has an elaborate marketing mythos involving A.I. avatars in the metaverse — none of which matters to the computer-tooled, syncopated pleasures of “Better Things.” It’s a kiss-off that demotes an ex back to being a “No. 1 fan/now you can only see me at a sold-out show.” The track runs on two chords, brisk Caribbean-tinged percussion and ever-changing top-line strategies: cooing melodies, stacked-up harmonies, a smidgen of rap, a little a cappella, all pushing forward. PARELES

The Colombian songwriter Karol G released “Mañana Será Bonito,” (“Tomorrow Will Be Pretty”), an album filled with songs about breaking up and healing, in February. Her follow-up is a sassier 10-song mixtape, “Mañana Será Bonito (Bichota Season),” that includes “Mi Ex Tenía Razón”: “My Ex Was Right.” Not exactly. She sings that he was right that she’d never find someone like him — instead, she found somebody better. She delivers her taunt sweetly, in a breezy, unhurried cumbia; clearly, she has moved on. PARELES

In “Ready for You,” a desperate introvert testifies to how her shyness and xenophobia battle her longing for company. “Wish I could meet you with my eyes/I’m sick inside my twisted mind,” Clementine Creevy sings, in a track that uses the distorted guitars and soft-loud dynamics of grunge to capture the stress of a simple encounter. PARELES

The Argentine-born, New York-based composer and pianist Guillermo Klein is best known for the rhythmically propulsive, richly woven compositions that he writes for Los Guachos, his 11-piece big band. On his newest album, “Telmo’s Tune,” Klein applies his tool kit to a series of compositions for a smaller band, working with just the saxophonist Chris Cheek, the bassist Matt Pavolka, the drummer Alan Mednard and the pianist Leo Genovese, who doubles with Klein on keyboards. Cheek’s soprano sax soars on the opening track, “Criolla,” as the rest of the band plays around with a polyrhythmic foundation that’s never more dicey than it is satisfying. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

“Hold Me” is a plea for comfort that’s rapped and sung by Quavo from Migos, whose nephew and Migos member, Takeoff, was shot dead in 2022. With phantom voices harmonizing over minor chords, it calls for divine and earthly solace, never sure if they will materialize. PARELES

On “Karpeh,” the Blue Note Records debut of Cautious Clay, the Cleveland-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist uses a jazz musician’s tools in service of self-interrogating pop balladry, singing restless songs of half-exposed emotions and frustrated romance that land somewhere in the vicinity of Steve Lacy’s recent work. On “Moments Stolen” (its title a winking jazz reference), Cautious Clay — nee Joshua Karpeh — admits that he has lost faith in a relationship that he might not have ever wanted to work out in the first place. RUSSONELLO

In a Guardian article published on Thursday, K.D. Lang celebrates Tony Bennett, her friend and collaborator, who died last month at 96. “He loved to sing for everybody,” Lang said, marveling at his well-documented blend of character, humility and devotion to the democratic power of song. Bennett and Lang recorded and performed together at various times over the past three decades, starting after she had recently come out as queer, and she remembered feeling “aware that our duet was radical.” This week she released a new version of “Because of You,” the ballad that gave Bennett his first No. 1 hit in 1951, which they reprised on his Grammy-winning 2006 album, “Duets: An American Classic.” Lang sings here with the casual, unrefined grace that she and Bennett have in common, over pillowy piano chords and an upright bass. Proceeds will go toward Exploring the Arts, the nonprofit that Bennett founded with his wife, Susan Benedetto. RUSSONELLO

Sufjan Stevens returns to his folky side in “So You Are Tired,” a gentle, doleful, quietly resentful parting song from an album due this fall. “I was the man still in love with you/when I already knew it was done,” he sings, in a waltz carried by rippling, fragmented patterns of piano and guitar, joined by voices harmonizing oohs and ahs, seeking serenity after the bitterness. PARELES

A feeling of momentum develops gradually and a bit unstably on “Snake Tune,” which slowly coalesces around the pulpy, thrummed harmonies of Noah Garabedian’s bass and the lazy precision of Vinnie Sperrazza’s cymbal strokes. Caleb Wheeler Curtis alternates between alto saxophone and trumpet, sounding neither in a hurry nor willing to be held back in any way. The track comes from “August in March,” the newest album from the improvising trio known as Ember. RUSSONELLO

POST AUTHOR: Jon Pareles, Giovanni Russonello and Lindsay Zoladz

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