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Clinch Mountain Sweethearts
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel includes: Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams,
  • Joan Baez, Iris DeMent, Gillian Welch, Pam Tillis, Sara Evens, Melba Montgomery (vocals); James Alan Shelton, Ralph Stanley II (guitar); Steve Sparkman (banjo); John Rigsby (mandolin); James Price (fiddle, bass); Jack Cooke (bass, background vocals); George Shuffle, Mark Fain (bass); Cheryl White (background vocals).
  • Recorded at Masterlink, Quad, Nashville, Tennessee; Different Fur Studios, San Francisco, California. Includes liner notes by Eddie Stubbs and Chris Skinker.
  • CLINCH MOUNTAIN SWEETHEARTS was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
  • Liner Note Author: Eddie Stubbs.
  • Clinch Mountain Sweethearts can be thought of as a bluegrass version of John Prine's In Spite of Ourselves. Like Prine, Stanley is joined by a number of female singers, both later and classic, on 16 bluegrass gems. In fact, several names -- Iris DeMent, Lucinda Williams, and Melba Montgomery -- show up on both collections. Maria Muldaur cuts loose and gives it her all on the bluesy "The Memory of Your Smile." When Stanley joins her, the sound is oh so lonesome. DeMent joins the fray on "Ridin' That Midnight Train" and "Trust Each Other," and while both cuts work pretty well, the country inflections in her voice get lost in the up-tempo material. One surprising cut features Chely Wright who, believe it or not, offers a good old-time vocal on "Angel Band" that has almost nothing in common with her trendy Nashville work. Montgomery delivers a gutsy take on Hank Williams' "You Win Again," which is a tad more believable coming from a female point of view. The Clinch Mountain Boys sound great as always. Combining bluegrass and old-time, they find the right groove for each piece and never hurry a song. Clinch Mountain Sweethearts works better than the Prine collection, mostly because Stanley is well-matched with most of his co-singers. When their voices don't match, they stay out of each other's way. Once again, Clinch Mountain Sweethearts finds Stanley making good music by adding a few contemporary touches to mountain traditions. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Professional Reviews
Entertainment Weekly (10/12/01, p.89) - "...Reveals a desparate preoccupation with death. When Stanley's husk of a tenor wraps around a thing-of-wonder soprano...the effect is rose-and-briar perfection..." - Rating: B

No Depression (11-12/01, pp.117-8) - "...Mournful ballads and hymns pursuing so much more than proven formula..."

Mojo (Publisher) (2/02, p.97) - "...Exhilarating, effulgent music..."
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