Halos & Horns

Halos & Horns

by Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton completes the bluegrass trilogy she began with 1999's stunning The Grass Is Blue in spectacular fashion with her self-produced Halos & Horns. As she did on 2001's Little Sparrow, Parton continues to work with bluegrass hues here but broadens the palette to incorporate…  See more details below


Dolly Parton completes the bluegrass trilogy she began with 1999's stunning The Grass Is Blue in spectacular fashion with her self-produced Halos & Horns. As she did on 2001's Little Sparrow, Parton continues to work with bluegrass hues here but broadens the palette to incorporate folk and traditional country elements. The big buzz is all about her interpretation of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," which evolves from a stately, measured folk song with mystical strains to a boisterous, ad-libbed coda featuring an emotive gospel choir. But the salient points about Halos & Horns are first, that 12 of its 14 songs are powerful Parton originals -- as if anyone needed reminding that she ranks with country's greatest songwriters -- and second, that her vocal performances are as extraordinary as any this veteran artist has laid down in her estimable career. And that's saying something. Her songs mine familiar turf, offering fond reminiscences of childhood ("Sugar Hill") and her mountain upbringing ("These Old Bones"); shattering accounts of heartbreak ("Not for Me," with a vocal treatment for the ages, and "Dagger Through the Heart"); and spiritually oriented themes ("Hello God," a big, booming production with orchestra and gospel choir, and "Raven Dove," which reflects on the promise of peace on earth with Jesus' return). Parton also dusts off a gem from her great 1976 album All I Can Do -- "Shattered Image" is a pointed retort to those who judge others by their appearance (this time it's personal!) -- and even finds the poetry in "If," Bread's 1971 soft-rock hit. In coming full circle to the music she was raised on, Dolly Parton sounds as tuneful and true as ever.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
More angelic than devilish, Halos & Horns, the third in a series of back-to-the-roots styled acoustic albums the legendary country singer recorded for Sugar Hill label, again boasts superior musicianship and a loose but not necessarily low-key style. A mix of new songs, rerecorded obscurities Parton felt deserved another chance ("What a Heartache" got lost on the soundtrack to Rhinestone, "Shattered Image" is a little-known gem from 1976's All I Can Do album, and an unrecorded oldie "John Daniel" goes back nearly 35 years), and high-profile covers of Bread's "If" and Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" find the singer/songwriter is in excellent voice and exuberant spirits. Some of the new compositions, such as the ballad "If Only" (written for a movie about Mae West Parton was making when recording this album, but deemed too sad for the soundtrack) and the stirring "Raven Dove," with a full gospel backing, are nearly the equal of the singer's best work. The jaunty tempo but sorrowful lyrics of "Dagger Through the Heart" is classic bluegrass complete with banjo and fiddle and an example of Parton at her finest. Not everything works; "These Old Bones," a winding story-song marred by Parton taking the voice of an old woman on the chorus, is sappy if well intentioned, and her version of "If" remains a bit smarmy, even torn down to its acoustic roots. But her take on an album-closing "Stairway to Heaven" (given the thumbs up from no lesser experts than Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, who had to approve Parton's slightly altered lyrics) smartly and successfully refashions the song's dense themes into a contemporary gospel ode which retains the mystery of the original even as it is rearranged for this project's folk/bluegrass direction. Stirring, unpretentious yet powerful, Halos & Horns effectively continues Parton's glorifying of her mountain roots. She subsequently launched her first tour in a decade after this disc's 2002 release.
Entertainment Weekly - Holly George-Warren
She pulls it off, magnificently, thanks to her spectacular trill of a soprano and earnest approach. (A-)
New York Magazine - Ethan Brown
Parton's risks here bring great, unexpected pleasures.

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Product Details

Release Date:


  1. Halos and Horns
  2. Sugar Hill
  3. Not for Me
  4. Hello God
  5. If
  6. Shattered Image
  7. These Old Bones
  8. What a Heartache
  9. I'm Gone
  10. Raven Dove
  11. Dagger Through the Heart
  12. If Only
  13. John Daniel
  14. Stairway to Heaven

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dolly Parton   Primary Artist,Voices,Vocal Harmony
April Stevens   Vocal Harmony
Bob Carlin   Claw Hammer Banjo
Robert Hale   Acoustic Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Terry Eldredge   Bass,Background Vocals,Bass Fiddle,Vocal Harmony
Richard Dennison   Piano,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Vicki Hampton   Vocal Harmony
Jimmy Mattingly   Fiddle,Mandolin,Viola
Jennifer O'Brien   Vocal Harmony
David Sutton   Harmonica,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Brent Truitt   Mandolin
Steve Turner   Trombone,Drums,Tambourine,Washboard,Snare Drums
Kent Wells   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Guitar (Baritone)
Gary D. Davis   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo
Beth Stevens   Vocal Harmony
Randy Kohrs   Dobro,Guitar,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Arthur Rice   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Steve French   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Eric Bennett   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Gary "Biscuit" Davis   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo
Darrell Webb   Mandolin,Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

Dolly Parton   Composer,Producer
Richard Dennison   Vocal Supervision
Steve Turner   Contributor
Danny Joe Brown Band   Engineer
Virginia Team   Art Direction,Label Design
Danny Brown   Engineer
Seva   Mastering
Scottie Hoaglan   Engineer
Keith Rogers   Engineer
Phil VanPeborgh   Engineer

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