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Album review: Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton (album)

Back in 2003, the small indie label Sugar Hill Records released this wonderful tribute album to who many feel is the queen of country music, Dolly Parton. Released on an independent label, it is one of the best tribute albums ever made, and most of these excellent reinterpretations do Dolly’s wonderful music justice.

Mindy Smith delivers a fine reinterpretation of the classic Jolene in a really ethereal Americana, Southern gothic style. Smith hits this one out of the park not trying to parrot the original, and delivers one of the finest performances here.

Emmylou Harris’ beautiful reinterpretation of To Daddy is featured here, although that song had previously been on her 1978 masterpiece Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town. If you have had a chance to listen to that magical album, you know how amazing that version is.

Joan Osbourne’s Do I Ever Cross Your Mind is also a fine reworking, and the lady with one of the most underrated voices of all time does it great justice. It’s no wonder why she would release a country album years later.

Sinead O’Connor takes on Dagger Through The Heart and gives it the appropriate Celtic Southern Gothic reading that you would expect, with some wonderful steel guitar to back it up.

Norah Jones tackles the bluegrass inspired The Grass Is Blue, and her magical voice gives you an idea of just how amazing this reinterpretation is. It’s one of the best songs to be found here.

Australian country singer Kasey Chambers takes on the other bluegrass number Little Sparrow here, and listening to this, it’s a total surprise that she was not more successful in the states. Her voice really makes this tune.

Allison Moorer brings a fine slow country soul vibe with her reinterpretation of Light Of A Clear Blue Morning, which originally was a faster song. This type of cover might not be for everybody, but Shelby Lynne’s sister delivers the fine rendition that you would expect her to do, and if you need to know more, just listen to her excellent original Send Down An Angel, one of the best country songs ever recorded.

Shelby Lynne also makes an appearance here, with a fine version of The Seeker which bears no relation to The Who song of the same name.

There are a couple of missteps here. Alison Krauss sounds a bit out of place on 9 To 5 which is really too pop for her to do it justice, but hearing a straight bluegrass version of this is interesting to say the least.

Melissa Etheridge also sounds a bit out of place on I Will Always Love You, and although she does a fine job here, I wish she would have given this more of a louder reading.

That aside I’ve saved the best for last, and that would be the absolutely awesome reinterpretation of the country classic Coat Of Many Colors which is performed by Shania Twain backed by Alison Krauss & Union Station. Shania Twain for all of her pop trappings possesses one of the finest voices in not just country music, but all of music in general, and gives this song such a passionate reinterpretation, you just might start bawling your eyes out after you have heard it, just like I did. It’s no mystery why she was able to get 17 million plus people to “Come On Over” all those years ago, and this is one of the greatest performances that Shania has ever delivered, so haters get out of the way.

Add to that a performance of the title track Just Because I’m A Woman by Dolly herself and you have one of the finest tribute albums ever made, that never gets old and always gets better with every play. Dolly Parton is one of the greatest performers in the history of country music, and this fine set of reinterpretations tells you why and then some. Highly recommend seeking this out if you are looking for something different... Get your copy here: Amazon

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