Appalachian Blues (Attic Entertainment)
Blues from the east Tennessee mountains - now there's a concept for you. But that's what Stella Parton - yes, Dolly's sister - brings in this bright and breezy collection blowing in like a cool wind from the high ridges.
"Up In The Holler," one of six songs written by Stella (who's now using only her first name professionally), sets the wistful tone for this melodic musical journey. You can't go home again, she sings with a gentle longing that harkens back to the hills and valleys of your youth. The tasteful, incisive banjo and guitar work of Earl Scruggs and his son Randy enrich the instrumental track of "Lover's Dream" and "Songbird's Heart."
The classic "Wayfaring Stranger" drops by for a meaningful visit and Stella carefully caresses Paul Overstreet's gem "The Missing Part." She keeps production as clear, clean and uncluttered as a Smoky Mountain stream with emphasis on the lyrics, a formula that works equally well on the timeless sentiments of "I Draw From The Well." Though she wrote the song, it sounds as though it could have come to the Appalachians straight from the British Isles.
Stella's delicate voice imparts a childish innocence to Wayne Carson's "One Honest Love" with its soft crescendo of a chorus. My love is below and above you, she pledges, It's where you go and where you've been/It only disappears when you don't need it/And waits in silence until you need it again.
There's a genteel, yet soaring, quality to Appalachian Blues that invites the listener back repeatedly to a breezy front porch on a summer evening to hear Stella sing from the heart. Whether it's a family member or a wayfaring stranger, this mountain retreat beckons those who'd like to sit a spell and recharge the soul with music as enduring as the blue-misted mountains that gave it birth.
-- Gerry Wood