Gettin Giddy:Better Day by Dolly Parton

Better Day by Dolly Parton

Okay, okay so I know that we, at One21music, are known as champions of underground musicians.  We can’t get further from the underground than the supernova country star  Dolly Parton.  I know One21music is known for featuring edgy, boundary pushing music. It does not get more mainstream than county pop.  However, if you allow musical prejudice and street cred to  keep you from Better Days you will make a silly mistake.

Better Days is the most upbeat, affirming collection of songs I have heard in years. On Better Days, Christian musician Dolly Parton gives us her philosophy for transcending today’s cultural malaise through ebullient joy and transcendent faith. In interviews around the release of Better Days Dolly said, in this time of fear and despair, that she just wanted to bring a ray of sunshine and let people know things will be okay. She certainly delivers as you can see in this concert video of Dolly Parton performing Better Day‘s opening song, “In The Meantime”

It doesn’t stop there. Better Day is song after song of overflowing joy.  The Dolly Parton joy in 2011 is just as palpable as Public Enemy‘s rage in 1990, equally powerful and just as compelling.  You cannot listen to Better Day without a smile on your face. You cannot walk away from this music without a little brighter outlook on life.  My gosh she even has a blues song about how much better everything will be.  Watch Dolly Parton sing “Better Day”

Dolly Parton is in fine voice on Better Day.  After nearly 50 years in the music business she still has her strong soprano and she sings as powerfully as I have heard her in a decade. The sound is organic mountain music with a glaze of country pop.  The fiddle, mandolin and banjo are more prominent on most songs than the orchestra.  Sonically, the music, even the sad songs, are upbeat and bright.  The entire package delivers Dolly’s message of joy.

Even the hard songs such as “The Sacrifice” deliver a message of hope.  In that song she sings of how much she has sacrificed to live her dream. In this day when so many of us struggle, so many of us have to sacrifice our wants for our needs, Christian musician Dolly Parton lets us know that sacrifice is part of the journey and its necessary to achieve our dreams.

The song that best delivers her message for the world in 2011 is her first single form Better Day, “Just You and I”

Is Dolly Parton so joyful because she is so successful or is she so successful because she is so joyful.  I don’t know and I don’t care.  Better Day is such a fun ride that whenever I hear the first notesof  the opening song “In The Meantime”, I start smiling and I don’t stop for hours after the album closes with the rousing duet “Holding Everything.”

But this is more than just a fun album.  We often talk about Christian musicians creating music that, no matter the lyrical construct, delivers the Christian message of transcendent joy. There are few albums on our website delivering on that philosophy as clearly and strongly as Better Day.  This is a collection of songs that we need to hear in 2011.  We need to be reminded that there is joy and that, no matter our circumstances, it is going to be alright.

I beg of you to do yourself a huge favor.  Step out of your comfort zone, click through this link  and buy Dolly Parton’s Better Day.  You will be very, very happy every time you listen.

New Releases For May 1st, 4th and 7th, 2010

heath mcnease the gun show
The Gun Show
Heath McNease

7 Spin Music
Underground Hip-Hop
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Amazon MP3

heath mcnease shine on
Shine On
Heath McNease

7 Spin Music
Folk Singer/Songwriter
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Amazon MP3

article one the only one Im fighting for ep
The One (I’m Fighting For) EP
Article One

Inpop Records
Pop Rock
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Austins Bridge times like these
Times Like These
Austins Bridge

Daywind Records
Pop Country
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Dolly Parton  Letter To Heaven Songs Of Faith & Inspiration
Letter To Heaven: Songs Of Faith & Inspiration
Dolly Parton

Sony Legacy
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the letter black hanging on by a thread
Hanging On By A Thread
The Letter Black

Tooth & Nail Records
Hard Rock
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MercyMe The Generous Mr Lovewell
The Generous Mr. Lovewell

INO Records
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oceana clean head ep
Clean Head EP

Rise Records
Post Hardcore
(available at Hot Topic)

saylah breakout

InLine Records
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A Rose By Any Other Name One For My Master And One For My Dame
One For My Master And One For My Dame
A Rose By Any Other Name (Josh Scogin of The Chariot)

Folk Singer/Songwriter

jason upton family music
Family Music
Jason Upton

Key Of David Ministries
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The One21 Essential 100 Pt.6

essential100 copy

The One21 Essential 100 is a collection of albums that represent the best in creativity, innovation, and originality in music. This is not a “best of” list, nor is it influenced by album sales, or even popularity. Our attempt with this series is to highlight the gems, those rare albums that push boundaries and encourage new ways of thinking; both musical and philosophically. In our opinion, the music highlighted in this series is the “good stuff”.

Simply what this is going to be is a list of 100 albums from Christian music artists that we think you should own. Like our website, most genres will be represented, and some of the albums will be from as far back as the 60s, to as current as 2009. Each week we will post five albums, in no real order, with descriptions, album artwork, and places to buy the music.

Check out Pt.1
Check out Pt.2
Check out Pt.3
Check out Pt.4
Check out Pt.5

Jennifer Knapp - Kansas
Jennifer Knapp

Buy this album:Amazon, iTunes
Kansas basks in both the relative youth of as a woman and as a Christian. Featuring her smartly communicative songwriting, Kansas examines matters of spirit and faith in an era dominated by pop culture. Jennifer Knapp chooses to embrace the dichotomy of spirit and culture with the back to back “Undo Me” and “Trinity”; the former, an infectious rock anthem and 1999′s Dove Award for rock song of the year, the latter a harmonically layered scripture-based examination of the Holy Spirit.

Self-described as “just a girl with a guitar,Jennifer Knapp, crafts acoustic folk-rock in the vein of Lilith Fair rock-maids, yet founds her lyrics on her relationship with God rather than on that of a beau. Blessed with an agile, earthy voice that reaches from matter-of-fact talkiness to power yowl to melodious balladic lilt Jennifer Knapp examines herself and, in the process inspires us to examine ourselves. Coupled with her taut and circular guitar lines and inspired string arrangements, Jennifer Knapp‘s Kansas is a testament to her well-used talents.
Highlights: Undo Me, Romans, Martyrs & Thieves

Dogwood-Through Thick & Thin
Through Thick & Thin

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
By combining elements of traditional punk, pop punk, hardcore, and even a little metal, Dogwood’s 1996 sophomore album, Through Thick & Thin, was (and in many was still is) the punk album to beat. Every member of the band ejected each track with their own personal flavor that gave Dogwood’s sound stand so far ahead of the rest they could barely be seen. It wasn’t so much that they reinvented punk, but it is so refreshing still to hear a band who took a genre and made it their own. Josh Kimbles vocals sound like they could fit in a Seattle grunge band, the guitars sounded more Metallica at times than Sum 41, and the lightning fast drumming makes even the most seemingly simple part explode through the speakers.

Aside from the sound, it was the message of Through Thick & Thin that makes it still relevant today. Instead of singing about parties and the beach, Dogwood tackled issues of sin, child abuse, and integrity. Every song contained some type of deeply grounded truth that was far more emotional than expected, and gave Dogwood the distinction of being the most seriously minded happy band on the planet. Fast, impactful, and unique: Through Thick & Thin was a classic then, and it is a classic now.
Highlights: All Hands On Deck, Stairway To Sin, Jesus

Dolly Parton-The Grass Is Blue
The Grass is Blue
Dolly Parton

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
In 1997, middle-aged, no longer viable at radio, Dolly Parton returned to the Tennessee mountain cabin of her youth to “write like I was hungry again.” The first recording out of her return to her roots was Hungry Again. Then Dolly Parton released The Grass Is Blue, the first of a series of three bluegrass albums. Dolly Parton‘s 61st full-length album is not a superstar covering a genre. The Grass Is Blue is Dolly Parton singing the music of her childhood with the kind of authentic, fiery passion we rarely present is the country-pop Dolly Parton has allowed herself to be chained with for decades. This album revived her reputation as a country singer/songwriter and allowed her to sing and testify her faith.

The Grass is Blue is a full-out bluegrass venture. An all star group of musicians bring dobro, fiddle, mandolin and banjo to Dolly Parton’s warbling voice and mountain twang. The seamless grace of Dolly Parton‘s celebration of her mountain roots won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2001.
Highlights: Silver Dagger, I Am Ready, Travelin’ Prayer

James Blood Ulmer-Bad Blood In The City The Piety Street Sessions
Bad Blood In The City: The Piety Street Sessions
James Blood Ulmer

Buy this album:Amazon, iTunes
Free Jazz guitar legend James Blood Ulmer collaborates with Vernon Reid and The Memphis Blood Blues Band to deliver a blues take on the destruction of New Orleans. It’s built around a cycle of original Ulmer songs which directly address Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. With this album, Ulmer has delivered one of the most stirring and emotionally powerful recordings of his career.

“Survivors of the Hurricane” opens the album with a bluesy cry of despair and longing that survivors feel. In “Katrina”, Ulmer virtually wails at the physical and spiritual destruction wrought by the big storm. Ulmer’s gruff shuffling singing style delivers a powerful texture to this haunting song cycle.
Highlights:Let’s Talk About Jesus, This Land Is No One’s Land, There Is Power In The Blues

mewithoutYou Brother, Sister
Brother, Sister

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
By the time that Brother, Sister rolled around in 2006, people already knew that mewithoutYou were special. What they didn’t know is that past albums hadn’t even begun to tap into what the band was capable of, and Brother, Sister was the album the band was the album the band was born to make. If you have never heard mewithoutYou, then this will be very hard to describe, because simply…..there isn’t anything that sounds like them. The music is heavy, but it isn’t hard. The songs are creative, but they are simple at the same time. The vocals are not sang or screamed or spoken, more ranted….and sang…..and screamed…The sound mewithoutYou had spent years crafting came on in full force with Brother, Sister, and so in a way it was like everything they had done before, but in the right order for the first time.

Lyrically, Brother, Sister is a call of unification, and plead for brotherhood and worship. Like most things mewithoutYou, this message isn’t obvious; many of the songs talk more about animals and life on the sea rather than the Body of God. What you will find is that the first time you listen to the album, you will spend most of your time trying to get used to mewithoutYou’s unique brand of folk and progressive post-hardcore. The second time you will just start to love the songs themselves, the third time you will start to recognize and dig into the lyrics. Then, something will click, and you cant imagine listening to anything else. We at One21 consider this to be one of the best albums every created, and we also believe it will stand the test of time and be copied, imitated, and ripped off for years to come, all a testament to the power that mewithoutYou communicates. Oh, earlier, notice I didn’t say one of the best albums ever created by CHRISTIAN artists….
Highlights: Messes of Men, A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains, In a Sweater Poorly Knit, O, Porcupine

New Releases For October 27th, 2009

before there was rosalyn THE FUHRER An Allegory Of A History Of Deception
THE FUHRER: An Allegory Of A History Of Deception
Before There Was Rosalyn

Victory Records
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Tsar Bomba

RetroActive Records
Hard Rock

Byron Cage Faithful To Believe
Faithful To Believe
Byron Cage

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deas vail birds cages
Birds & Cages
Deas Vail

Mono VS Stereo
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dolly parton + dolly
Dolly(4 CD Box Set)
Dolly Parton

Sony Legacy
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the priests harmony
The Priests

RCA Records
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mission six not too young
Not Too Young
Mission Six

iShine Records
Tween Pop
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the rocket summer you gotta believe ep
You Gotta Believe EP
The Rocket Summer

Island Records
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the rubyz sound off
Sound Off
The Rubyz

iShine Records
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safe haven In the Middle of Destruction
In the Middle of Destruction
Safe Haven

Live Love Records
Pop Rock

Truby Entropy

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U2 The Unforgettable Fire
The Unforgettable Fire(Remastered Re-Release)

Island Records
Pop Rock
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iTunes (deluxe version)

A Silver Lining (digital release)
We Shot The Moon

Afternoon Records
Pop Rock
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Stuff From All Over

2009 is up and going, and things are starting to pick up again for us around here. Some formatting issues didn’t let me post a New Releases post this week, but we have taken care of it, so there will be one up next week. I promise.  Anyway, the music scene is starting to go back to work, so the news is a bit more plentiful than past posts. We do this every week (almost every week) to keep you, the reader, up to date on what is happening in the Christian music industry. If you think we have missed something, or you want to hear about your favorite Christian artist, hit us up in that Contact Us tab over there, and we will do our best to change our ways..

Friction Family did an interview that debuted on They were also featured in Billboard Magazine. Watch Friction Family video interview. See Friction Family in Billboard Magazine.

Rapper Apple Jaxx put a new song called “Rebel” for free download. Download a free Apple Jaxx MP3.

Emery and Underoath announced their European tour together. Check tour dates for Emery.

HANDS updated fans from the road about their latest tour and whats going on with the band. Read HANDS tour blog.

Glam metal icons Stryper posted the track listing for their latest CD. Read Stryper’s tracklisting for their new CD, Murder By Pride.

Agraceful is streaming their entire CD right now on myspace. Listen to Agraceful’s full CD, The Great I Am.

A live video of Copeland surfaced on this week. Watch a live music video of Copeland.

Skillet gave a huge update concerning new music and various band stuff. Read updates on Skillet. did a great interview with Tooth And Nail Records owner/founder Brandon Ebel. Read the online interview with Brandon Ebel of Tooth And Nail.

Believer’s official announcement concerning their signing to Meta Blade Records was made public. Read Metal Blade Records official annnouncent on signing Believer.

Rapper KJ-52 posted another of his ongoing video devotionals, this one is entitled “Who Do You Compare To?”. Watch KJ-52′s video devontional #12.

Underneath The Gun posted an update concerning their new CD, Forfiet Misfourtunes, being featured on, new tours, and their purevolume site. Read updates for Underneath The Gun.

Yours For Mine‘s new album, Dear Children, was reviewed by,, and Read Dear Children CD review on highbeam. Read Dear Children review on Read Dear Children CD review on jtindie.

Red has new music video up for the song “Death Of Me” on their website. Watch Red’s music video for “Death Of Me”.

High Valley issued their latest e-news update concerning a new CD, tours, and joining a cruise next winter. Read news updates for High Valley.

Esther O’Conner gave a short update on her Christmas break, and some new songs from her new CD. Read Esther O’Conner updates.

Abandon Kansas posted their first tour vidoe blog from their “Left Coast Tour”. Watch video tour blog from Abanddon Kansas.

Open Grave Records signed I Built The Cross this week. Read Open Grave Records announce the signing of I Built The Cross.

The artwork for THE ASCENDICATE’s new album made its way online this week. See the cover art for the CD To Die As Kings.

Brain “Head” Welch will be holding open auditions for his touring band very soon. Read how to audition for Brian Welch’s touring band.

Veronica Ballestrini gave asmall update about her new album. Read updates from Veronica Ballestrini.

R-Swift‘s new video for the song “Lifetime” hit the web this week. Watch R-Swift’s video for “Lifetime”.

A rendition of of “A Little Help From My Friends” featuring Dustin Kensrue (Thrice), Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), and Aaron Gillespie (Underoath/The Almost) recorded at a recent To Write Love On Her Arms event was posted on this week. Watch the all-star video of “A Little Help From My Friends”.

Anathallo gave an interview to this week. Read Ananthallo interview.

The HipHope 2009 website launched this week to promote the album in February. You can listen to many of the 15+ songs through the website, and also read short bios on each of the artists featured on this year’s compilation. Check out HipHope 2009′s website.

Cornerstone Festival revamped and updated their website this week. A few bands were announced, along with an address from the fest’s director. Visit the Cornerstone Festival 2009 website.

Mae will be releasing a new song in MP3 form, every month, for a year. All proceeds will go charity. Read information on Mae’s charity song drive.

A press release concerning August Burns Red was issued this week. Read August Burns Red’s official press release.

Facedown Fest 09′s website launch this week. Visit Facedown Fest 09.

Dolly Parton announced she will be taking part of the “From The Heart Series”. Read the official announcement about Dolloy Parton and the “From The Heart Series”.

A huge update on Rebecca St. James was posted this week on her myspace. Read Rebecca St. James updates.

The Fray‘s new video for their song, “You Found Me” premiered this week. Watch the video for “You Found Me” by The Fray.

KJ-52‘s video for his song “Stuck In The 80′s” palso premiered this week. Watch the video for “Stuck In The 80s” by KJ-52.