Halos And Horns

Dolly Parton

Sugar Hill Records, 2002


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


It's always a pleasure to hear an artist successfully reinvent themselves; to finally be doing exactly what they want, and have the joy in that show. Dolly Parton's three CDs for Sugar Hill Records have accorded us the pleasure of doing just that. Dolly's doing what she wants now, and the joy is plain in her voice and in her demeanor. (She's even having fun doing interviews. I died laughing at a two-year-old interview she did with British talk show host Graham Norton recently.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So, I guess it's almost anticlimactic to say it, but Parton's done it again. Her latest solo effort, Halos And Horns, may be the best thing she's done yet. Consistently brilliant, it is the work of a talented artist who can finally ignore the money and promotion people and play music.

Production (which she did herself) is solid; the disc sounds bright and clear, with a very uncluttered sound that supports the genre fully. The backing musicians, especially the fiddle of Jimmy Mattingly, are all very good.

Once again, Parton has thrown on a couple of cover versions that one wouldn't quite expect, in the spirit of her past versions of Collective Soul and Billy Joel. Her version of the soft-rock classic "If" (originally recorded by Bread) is acceptable; certainly it's no worse than the original, which is a rather cliched piece of work. Where she really shines, though, is…. …swear to gods, don't laugh… "Stairway To Heaven."

Yes, that's what I said. "Stairway To Heaven."

And it WORKS, dammit. It works really really well.

With the permission of Plant and Page, she has added a verse at the end that turns the AOR dinosaur into a passionate, rip-roaring, tear-your-guts-out hymn. No longer a song about nothing in particular, Parton's version of "Stairway" doesn't meander up the stairway; it storms up it, kicks the door down, roughs up St Peter, and pleads to be admitted into the Presence. Whether or not you share her spiritual beliefs, the passion and faith in her voice is naked and powerful, and not to be missed.

Other tracks of note include the mystical "These Old Bones", the funny "I'm Gone", and the bitter, angry "Dagger Through The Heart". Parton plays a symphony of emotion on Halos And Horns, and nails them all to the wall. Don't miss this one; it's going to be a classic.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sugar Hill Records, and is used for informational purposes only.