Home Read Classic Album Review: Dolly Parton | Little Sparrow

Classic Album Review: Dolly Parton | Little Sparrow

The country icon puts a new shine on the mountain music of her Little Sparrow album.

This album came out a couple of decades ago. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Some unenlightened folks out there may still think of Dolly Parton as the personification of her old hit Dumb Blonde. The rest of us have known for a long timat that she’s anything but.

For decades, Parton has been not only a fine singer but also a first-rate songwriter — perhaps you’ve heard a little ditty she penned called I Will Always Love You? But even for Dolly, the past few years have been exceptional. In 1999 she re-embraced the traditional mountain music of her Tennessee youth on The Grass is Blue, one of the most acclaimed albums of her career. Little Sparrow, which reunites Parton with the same pickers and crooners, picks up where that CD left off, with Dolly once again in a reflective, nostalgic mood that governs these 14 tracks. Relying on the traditional fiddles, dobros, mandolins and banjoes, Parton digs into her own back catalogue on elegant homespun new versions of My Blue Tears and Down from Dover, honours a few heroes with The Louvin BrothersI Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby and her Bill Monroe ode Bluer Pastures, gets countrypolitan on Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You and explores her relationship with her father on the heart-tugging title ballad. But the standout track just might be her version of Collective Soul’s Shine (no, really), which Parton frees from its dated grunge flannel and wraps in denim overalls, revamping it into a banjo-driven Appalachian ballad complete with barnburning breakdowns. Remarkable — much like Dolly herself.