Dolly Parton The Grass Is Blue (Sugar Hill)
The Grass Is Blue (Sugar Hill)
Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., Nov. 12, 1999
The Grass Is Blue (Sugar Hill)This release is likely to split audiences into two camps: The traditionalists are gonna hate it, because Dolly Parton's unmistakable voice "doesn't fit" the bluegrass arrangements, and the more open-minded are going to embrace it for that same reason -- her voice. The girl from Sevierville, Tenn., gets back to her roots with The Grass Is Blue, lining up some crack bluegrass players and taking on numbers like the Louvin Brothers' "Cash on the Barrelhead" and Lester Flatt's "I'm Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open." Parton has always had an undeniable charm and talent aplenty, even during her Eighties phase of pop detritus and watered-down country. If anything, this CD is a courageous move on her part, as it could be construed as her genteel way of saying "to hell with the purists" of bluegrass. It's ironic, though, that a lot of the roots-music folks who will probably reflexively shun The Grass Is Blue also love the Bad Livers, Split Lip Rayfield, and the Meat Purveyors, all of whom are pretty far afield from "traditional" bluegrass. The players, including Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, and Jerry Douglas, all play with fevered energy, and Parton's familiar vibrato soars over the mountain-music instruments like it was born to do just that.