Dolly Parton: The Grass is Blue (Sugar Hill/Elite)

 |   |  <1 min read

Dolly Parton: The Grass is Blue (Sugar Hill/Elite)

Time was when double-barrelled Dolly was on a major label and hammering home the hits with Kenny Rogers. These days, and for some little while, she's been on minor labels and not many people would argue that making a bluegrass album is the way back to chart domination.

But with a stellar cast of players - Jerry Douglas on dobro, Sam Bush on mandolin, Jim Mills on banjo and harmony vocalists which include Alison Krauss and Patty Loveless - this is Parton returning to her back porch and singing from the heart.

She reinvents Billy Joel's Travelin' Prayer as a bluegrass stomper, sounds right at home on the Louvin Brothers' Cash on the Barrelhead and Lester Flatt's Sleep With One Eye Open, overhauls her own Steady as the Rain within the style, and goes out with a moving acappella version of the quasi-gospel farewell I Am Ready. And the traditional ballad Silver Dagger is an instrumental tour de force, with Parton letting the band take off into dark, evocative territory.

This is the music Parton grew up with in Locust Ridge, Tennessee (one of her first singles was Muleskinner Blues and she used to play banjo) and she's seldom sounded so comfortable.

Fans from her Kenny'n'Dolly hit-spinning pop period might find this a bit raw and possibly too country for comfort. But for anyone with an open mind, the last Steve Earle album or a penchant for fiddle-led country, this one delivers.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Asian Dub Foundation: A History of Now (Cooking Vinyl)

Asian Dub Foundation: A History of Now (Cooking Vinyl)

Nobody would thank you for being so politically incorrect as to observe that much of this is just a politicised Asian-British version of nu-metal: lots of raging against the machine; rock guitars... > Read more

Aaradhna: Brown Girl (Universal)

Aaradhna: Brown Girl (Universal)

After her excellent if overlong Treble and Reverb of four years ago (which picked up a shedload of awards and acclaim), expectation has been high for this new one. The title track first single... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

More to life than cars and girls?

More to life than cars and girls?

A couple of weeks ago a strange sound came from our modest Mazda Demio so I confidently popped the bonnet. As I stood looking at the unfamiliar coils of metal and rubber it occurred to me it had... > Read more

Paul Van Ross: The Buck Stops Here (IA/Rattle)

Paul Van Ross: The Buck Stops Here (IA/Rattle)

Tenor and soprano saxophonist Paul Van Ross recorded these eight originals with a quintet at a Melbourne jazz club (before an inaudible audience, if there was one) in just one day in April 2011.... > Read more