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Ralph Stanley

Clinch Mountain Sweethearts – 2001 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

A follow-up to Ralph Stanley's Grammy-nominated "Clinch Mountain Country" from a few years back, this CD picks right up where that collection of duets left off, but only the women are allowed. While yet another clutch of re-recorded tunes done duet style could be seen as a holding action or rehash of past glories, the emotion that Stanley and his guests pour into each song gives pause to any thought that the man is coasting.

Iris Dement, silent for several years since her own last album, appears twice here, on the opening track, "Ridin' That Midnight Train" and "Trust Each Other," and deservedly so - her backwoods twang is perhaps the perfect foil to Stanley's weathered old-timer sound. The rest of the guest list does their best, also, with spirited performances turned in by Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams and Stanley's daughter-in-law Kristi Stanley.

If you are Ralph Stanley, indulgences like these guest-laden affairs are allowed, and given the depth of his catalog it is hard to imagine him running out of classics to re-do.