Various Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton

Whatever your opinion of Dolly Parton might be, it will probably be changed just by hearing the opening track here: Alison Krauss’s bluesy take on "9 to 5.” Suddenly, a song that’s always represented the depths of ’80s kitsch is transformed into something anyone who’s ever had a job can relate to. I guess that’s the brilliance of Dolly; no matter how much she masks her pure talent (intentionally or not), it will always be there in every song she writes. One after another, that purity is thankfully maintained by the host of female artists assembled for this project. And almost every one comes through with stunningly sparse interpretations. The highlights are numerous: Shelby Lynne’s "The Seeker” and Kasey Chambers’ "Little Sparrow” are givens and even Sinead and Shania can’t detract from the album’s overall beauty. If you’ve never picked up a Dolly Parton record, try this one and see what you’ve been missing. (Sugar Hill)