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RALPH STANLEY & FRIENDS 'Clinch Mountain Sweethearts' REB-1770-CD

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After recording two highly successful collaborative projects like 'Saturday Night/Sunday Morning' and the epic 36-track 'Clinch Mountain Country', what do you do for an encore? If you're Ralph Stanley, you do more of the same, and this 16-track album that features duets with 15 female artists is every bit as impressive and enjoyable thanks to a varied and stellar cast, the wonderful backing provided by the Clinch Mountain Boys, and Dr. Stanley's ever-enthralling tenor vocals. Everyone will have his/her own highlights here and it's difficult (perhaps pointless) to pick favorites as the album flows from one distinctive track to another, starting with a driving, powerful version of RIDIN' THAT MIDNIGHT TRAIN, featuring the intriguing voice of Iris Dement. Other cuts include LOVING YOU TOO WELL with Dolly Parton in superb voice, Patty Mitchell's fine contribution on the ballad LITTLE WILLIE, a very strong WILL YOU MISS ME with Pam Tillis (plus James Alan Shelton's super lead guitar), and a haunting OH DEATH with Gillian Welch. From the folk field Joan Baez teams with Ralph for a sensitive WEEPING WILLOW and Maria Muldaur provides a bluesy, effective MEMORY OF YOUR SMILE. Also, ARE YOU TIRED OF ME, DARLING with country newcomer Sara Evans is as good as any track on the album. Other ladies heard on this wonderful collection include Gail Davies, Lucinda Williams, Melba Montgomery, Valerie Smith, Kristi Stanley, Chely Wright and Jeannie Seely. Great stuff!