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DOLLY PARTON – HALOS AND HORNS

DOLLY
PARTON – HALOS
AND HORNS


Halos
and Horns/ Sugar Hill/ Not For Me/ Hello God If/
Shattered Images/ These Old Bones/ What A Heartache/ I’m Gone Raven
Dove/ Dagger through the Heart/ If Only/ John Daniel/ Stairway to
Heaven




Dolly
Parton is country’s most popular female singers equally famous for
her quick-wit, self-effacing personality and cartoon-like-figure as
she is for her superlative aptitudes as a profound singer and
cavernous songwriter. Iconic, legendary and blessed with an angelic,
tear-stained mountain-bred soprano voice, the effervescent Parton
continues to delight fans with her dazzling talent. But for all her
career highlights, the trail blazing diminutive dynamo was pushed
aside by a regimented country radio in the mid-nineties who favoured
the contemporary artists Parton had paved the way for, whilst
seemingly forgetting that Parton had scored a handful of critically
acclaimed albums including, rather surprisingly, her first
million-selling album, “Eagle When She Flies.”


Never
an artist to be kept down for too long however and armed with an
unstoppable do-it-yourself-attitude, the forever optimist Parton
reclaimed her position as one of the genre’s best beloved and most
prolific performers returning to her roots with 1998’s “Hungry
Again,” an album that signalled the beginning of a career
renaissance culminating in the Grammy award winning “The Grass is
Blue.” This beautifully crafted Bluegrass album containing stripped
down gems showcasing her shimmering and soaring soprano was greeted
with open arms by a Bluegrass community who had long since held
Parton in high esteem. But as awesome and as deep as the title track
was, Parton went one better with the equally impressive “Little
Sparrow” that included the beautiful yet harrowing “Mountain
Angel.” Showcasing her unique and compelling story telling
abilities and knack for pulling at the heart strings, the endearing
Parton pulled off yet another career scoop receiving universal
praise.


“Halos
and Horns” is the final instalment in the trio of bluegrass
recordings made for the independent Bluegrass label Sugar Hill
Records. Sounding more commercially slick than the previous sets but
nevertheless featuring an abundance of bluegrass recordings to marvel
over, Parton continues to make some of the most engaging and best
music of her glittering career. Free from any of the pop
sensibilities she unashamedly flaunted on past recordings, “Halos
and Horns” is a gorgeous and seamless production containing
fourteen songs, twelve of which Parton wrote. Void of fillers, the
album also illustrates and puts to rest the criticism that Parton
isn’t an album artist. Every track here is a gem and worthy of
mention.


From
the fiddle drenched intro of the effecting album title track to the
folksy and intriguing “John Daniel,” Parton’s awesome way
around a story song is aptly showcased and her trademark breathy
spoken/ sung narrative is on full display as she sings of a man with
callous hands and dirty clothes who may or not me Jesus. “So, you
want to be free,” Parton whispers, “Well, this is how you can…”
Parton captures the moment of a man sitting on the ground with a
bible in his hands and surrounded by a crowd of people with such
vivid imagery you almost feel a part of the crowd gathered in her
rich song tapestry. While the heart-breaking and intimate “Not for
Me” feels as if one has stepped into a private moment of reflective
solitude and the tear-stained “What a Heartache” puncture the
heart like only Dolly Parton can. The highlights however of this
highly enjoyable album are the uplifting and gospel charged “Hello
God” and the awe-inspiring and ethereal “Raven Dove” that
recall Parton’s country-gospel roots. Both are dazzlingly executed.


A
self-contained wonder woman, Parton has also recorded her fair share
of cover songs throughout her career and in her audaciousness; wraps
her magical and breathy pipes around two classic songs of the pop and
rock era while completely reinventing them into her own style making
them sound almost unrecognisable in their country and bluegrass
setting. David Gates of the Chicago rock group Bread receives the
breathy Parton treatment with her beautiful rendition of “If”
complete with the “Wah-wah” sounds of the Dobro guitar which
Parton clearly took glee in playing, and Led Zeppelins glittering and
shimmering “Stairway to Heaven” sounds as if it’s a Parton
original. Complete with a Gospel and almost folksy chorus it brings
this deeply satisfying album to a soaring close.


Garry
Moran.
























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