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Dolly Parton

Little Sparrow – 2001 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Dolly Parton

Even after her 1999 Sugar Hill effort "The Grass Is Blue" racked up sales figures that, by bluegrass standards, were phenomenal and picked up an album of the year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, there were still plenty of cynics and doubters around convinced that Dolly Parton's bluegrass credentials were bogus, that she had done the album as little more than a novelty, a passing fancy, and that her next album would take her back to the pop and mainstream country music that had made her an icon of American pop culture. For more than 30 years, since her days as Porter Wagoner's television sidekick, Parton has delighted in confounding the cynics and doubters, and her newly-released followup finds her still firmly rooted in bluegrass.

Like its predecessor, this mixes bluegrass standards with originals, with some intriguing surprises "Seven Bridges Road," "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby," and even some Cole Porter ("I Get A Kick Out Of You"). It's Dolly's own songs, though, that deliver the emotional punch, particularly in the sequence of "Mountain Angel," "Marry Me" and "Down From Dover". Butch McDade's "The Beautiful Lie," sung over Stuart Duncan's fiddle, is a striking track as well. Helped out by an all-star cast, there are strong elements of old time and Irish music in the mix as well. Whether or not this sells as well remains to be seen, but it's evey bit as enjoyable.