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Alison Krauss + Union Station | New Favorite (Rounder)
Alison Krauss alternates her releases between her solo albums and the albums featuring her band Union Station. On the band discs vocal chores swap back and forth between her and a couple of the lads. Her last solo album 'Forget About It' was lovely - her best yet, but also her least bluegrassy. So for the new band CD how does she reconcile her personal drift away from a rootsy sound with her band's need to get the old banjo hot and sweaty? Well, bluegrass is big at the moment, is it not, due to the success of the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' And who provided lead vocals on I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow in that there film? Well it was none other than Dan Tyminski, a member of Union station. (Our Ms Krauss featured on the soundtrack too, of course.) So some trademark plaintive songs from her are here mixed in with the much more foot-tapping trad. stuff from him, very much in the 'O brother' style. Which is all very fine and dandy, but makes for a somewhat schizophrenic listen, like two albums in one. On the other hand what are CD programming controls for but occasions like this? For the daylight hours, and to maybe even make that ironing go with a swing, begin with slow-starting toe-tapper The Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn and make sure you also include Momma Cried, which sounds like it comes from that film and features deft fiddling from AK. Your evening selections will always feature I'm Gone, a dobro-dominated yearner, and end with New Favorite which manages to simultaneously chug softly and make you cry. However you slice it this is rootsy music with depth and a light touch and flavours for everyone.

Jeff Cotton
November 2001