Instead of recommending a particular CD, this week I focus on the artist, Alison Krauss. As a late bloomer when it comes to many genres of music, I first heard Ms. Krauss in a few songs from the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? That is one CD I highly recommend. Other albums featuring Alison Krauss are: Forget About It, I’ve Got That Old Feeling, and Paper Airplane. If your local library has copies of Krauss’ work, check those out first. Otherwise, read the reviews on Amazon. From what I’ve read, and I am no Alison Krauss expert, her earlier recordings are super to her later recordings due to better guitar work. You be the judge of that one. Here is one reviewer’s opinion of the Paper Airplane CD. Based on this, I am trying to locate Krauss’ older performances.
“How can Alison Krauss and Union Station go wrong? Impeccable talents all, their fantastic ensemble skills are very much in evidence here. And of course there’s Alison’s gorgeous voice. Why then only 3 “It’s OK” stars? Well, Alison has set the bar so high over her long career that I just expect much more from her. Her spectacular fiddle skills have largely gone by the wayside since her early hard-core bluegrass days — a shame, in my opinion — but I guess somebody decided it’s not ladylike for a country diva to wail on the fiddle like her male counterparts might get to do (if there ARE any male counterparts who both sing AND play fiddle as well as she does.) So what we’ve got here is a beautifully performed but middle-of-the-road album with occasional high moments but, on the whole, a monochromatic effort. Dan Tyminski contributes a few good lead vocals, and Jerry Douglas on dobro is always welcomed. But Alison phones it in. I miss the soulful wailing of “Oh, Atlanta.” Overall, the song choice is not inspiring, certainly not as interesting as it has been on albums like SO LONG SO WRONG, for example. And on a great song like Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day,” the result is pretty, but lackluster. Listen to Bonnie Raitt or Linda Thompson sing this haunting tune and understand its true meaning. It’s all there in the poetry, but Alison sounds like her mind was on something else. On a positive note, I kind of like “Sinking Stone,” and the last cut, Jackson Browne’s “My Opening Farewell,” has a message I can relate to.
I’ve been following Alison’s career since she was a teenager and have seen her in person more times than I can count. She’s one of my all-time favorite artists. In conjunction with Union Station she has produced some of the finest bluegrass and bluegrass-crossover recordings ever made. Perhaps she’s been hanging around Nashville too long. Please Alison, stretch out and return to your roots, if only for a short time, and give us some of that hot fiddle playing that put you on the map, and round up the band for some high and lonesome bluegrass harmonies.
Alison will always be welcome in my home, but PAPER AIRPLANE barely takes off and will, for the most part, be relegated to the hangar (shelf).”
I selected the Mackintosh photograph as this art school, located in Glasgow, Scotland, recently experienced a serious fire. My wife and I, along with very close friends visited the art school on August 2, 2007.