Dolly Parton,
Grass is Blue
(Sugar Hill, 1999)

Although Dolly Parton had recorded bluegrass songs before, Grass is Blue marked her return to the genre in a big way.

With backing vocals by the three finest bluegrass ladies (Claire Lynch, Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent) and a stellar cast of bluegrass musicians (Jerry Douglas on dobro, Sam Bush on mandolin, Bryan Sutton on guitar, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Barry Bales on bass and Jum Mills on banjo), this is one of the best albums Dolly has ever recorded.

The songs include covers from a variety of sources, including Billy Joel ("Travelin' Prayer"), Louvin Brothers ("Cash on the Barrelhead"), Hazel Dickens, another fine bluegrass singer ("A Few Old Memories"), Lester Flatt ("I'm Gonna Sleep with One Eye Open"), Johnny Cash ("I Still Miss Someone") and traditional folk ("Silver Dagger").

Dolly's own songs are also included -- some old ("Steady As the Rain," first recorded by her sister Stella, and "Will He Be Waiting for Me," originally recorded by Dolly on her Touch Your Woman album) and some new, including the title track.

The tempo of the album is generally upbeat. Much credit is given to the O Brother soundtrack for the current popularity of bluegrass, but its popularity had already risen significantly as a result of this excellent album.

- Rambles
written by Peter D. Harris
published 9 August 2003

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