Clinch Mountain Sweethearts

Clinch Mountain Sweethearts

by Ralph Stanley

With O Brother, Where Are Thou? sparking renewed interest in traditional music, 74-year-old Ralph Stanley suddenly finds himself the exemplar of a sound and a style that speaks directly to the heart about things that matter. Like his amazing 1998 album Clinch Mountain CountrySee more details below


With O Brother, Where Are Thou? sparking renewed interest in traditional music, 74-year-old Ralph Stanley suddenly finds himself the exemplar of a sound and a style that speaks directly to the heart about things that matter. Like his amazing 1998 album Clinch Mountain Country, Clinch Mountain Sweethearts is a collection of duets; unlike the former, the latter features Stanley harmonizing only with female singers from country, blues, and bluegrass backgrounds. Much of the material is drawn from the Stanley Brothers' late '50s-early '60s repertoire for the Starday and King labels, but these and even older songs -- such as the haunting "Weeping Willow," popularized in the late '20s by the Carter Family and given a chilling turn here by a husky-voiced Joan Baez and a weathered Stanley -- sound as relevant as ever. Among the other high-profile names turning in exemplary performances are Iris DeMent (who appears twice), Gillian Welch (on a profound treatment of "Oh Death," which Stanley performs on the O Brother soundtrack), Dolly Parton, Chely Wright, Lucinda Williams (on a heartfelt version of the stirring gospel song "Farther Along"), and Pam Tillis (who gives an absolutely scorching rendition of A. P. Carter's remorseless account of betrayal, "Will You Miss Me"). But take note of the duets with veterans Gail Davies and Melba Montgomery (who really lays on the heartbreak on Hank Williams's "You Win Again"), as well as Maria Muldaur (on a swaggering, atmospheric blues rendition of the Stanleys' first King recording, "The Memory of Your Smile"), onetime Dixie Chick Patti Mitchell (on a deep bluegrass treatment of "Little Willie"), and the impressive recording debut of Kristi Stanley, Ralph's daughter-in-law, on Carter Stanley's gripping confession of unconditional love, "I'll Never Grow Tired of You." Nary a false note is struck here, and the deep spirituality informing Clinch Mountain Sweethearts is like a soothing balm in troubled times.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
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.

Product Details

Release Date:
Rebel Records


  1. Ridin' That Midnight Train (with Iris DeMent)
  2. Will You Miss Me (with Pam Tillis)
  3. Little Willie (with Patty Mitchell)
  4. Oh, Death (with Gillian Welch)
  5. Loving You Too Well (with Dolly Parton)
  6. The Memory of Your Smile (with Maria Muldaur)
  7. Are You Tired of Me, Darling (with Sara Evans)
  8. Weeping Willow (with Joan Baez)
  9. I'll Never Grow Tired of You (with Kristi Stanley)
  10. Rank Stranger (with Gail Davies)
  11. Trust Each Other (with Iris DeMent)
  12. Angel Band (with Chely Wright)
  13. You Win Again (with Melba Montgomery)
  14. I'm Ready to Go (with Jeannie Seely)
  15. Farther Along (with Lucinda Williams)
  16. I'll Remember You in My Prayers (with Valerie Smith)

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ralph Stanley   Primary Artist
Gail Davies   Track Performer
Melba Montgomery   Track Performer
Dolly Parton   Track Performer
Pam Tillis   Track Performer
Joan Baez   Track Performer
Iris DeMent   Track Performer
Lucinda Williams   Track Performer
Maria Muldaur   Track Performer
Terry Eldredge   Baritone
Jack Cooke   Baritone
Shelton Feazell   Bass
Jeannie Seely   Track Performer
George Shuffler   Bass
Valerie Smith   Track Performer
Cheryl White   Baritone
Chely Wright   Track Performer
Gillian Welch   Track Performer
Sara Evans   Track Performer
Mark Fain   Bass
James Price   Bass
Kristi Stanley   Track Performer

Technical Credits

David Freeman   Executive Producer
Randy LeRoy   Mastering
Eddie Stubbs   Liner Notes
Bil VornDick   Producer,Engineer
Traditional   Composer
David Lynch   Graphic Design

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