Too bad, because this CD, flawed though it is, sounds a lot better than most of what passes for country these days. The opening track, the Carter Family classic "Lover's Return," showcases the beautiful vocal interplay of Ronstadt's silken alto and Parton's amazing, shiver-inducing soprano. Another highlight is "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," written by Parton in 1973, with lead vocals by the consistently wonderful Harris. "I Feel the Blues Movin' In," penned by Del McCoury, features the stellar fiddle playing of Alison Krauss. For me, though, the standout is Parton's rendition of Neil Young's trippy sci-fi fantasy "After the Gold Rush," which is so strange and beautiful that I get goosebumps whenever I hear it. I do wish the line "I felt like getting high" hadn't been changed to "I felt like I could cry," but you can't have everything, I guess. Oh, yeah: Three of the album's 10 songs are real yawners, and Ronstadt sings lead on all of them. They sound like adult contemporary and, given the sorry state of the market, will probably be the album's only singles.

-- René Spencer Saller

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