Country queen Dolly Parton made her bluegrass debut two years ago with the highly acclaimed "The Grass Is Blue." And her mountain-music follow, "Little Sparrow," drew rave reviews last year.
Now, Parton's moving back home into country music with "Halos and Horns."
There's not a lot of bluegrass on here. But it's mostly acoustic music. And it's not really worth splitting genres over. It's good music.
The title cut is a classic Parton country wailer about the struggle in human nature between saints and sinners.
She resurrected some old material "Not For Me," a sad song written in her struggling Nashville days nearly 40 years ago; "John Daniel," about a Jesus-like stranger; "Shattered Image," about gossip destroying people's images; and "What A Heartache," about a lover's deceit.
But there's plenty of new material here too, including two songs, "Hello God" and "Raven Dove," inspired by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists in the name of God.
In "If Only," Parton captures the mood of the two saddest words in the English language.
For bluegrass fans, there's "Dagger Through The Heart" and "These Old Bones," a story-song that allows Parton to perform a duet with herself, imitating her mother's mountain dialect and singing in her own voice.
There's a song about skinny-dipping ("Sugar Hill") and a couple of rock remakes Bread's "If" and Led Zeppelin's classic "Stairway to Heaven," complete with a rousing gospel choir (The Kingdom Heirs).
"Halos and Horns" is an hour of Dolly Parton, full of energy and filled with both joy and pain. And it's very personal. She wrote all but two cuts.