Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Lonely Runs Both Ways" - Alison Krauss and Union Station

I am writing this review as I listen to it for the first time. Just read the liner notes. Honestly, I have been looking forward to this CD for some time, big fan of AKUS. This is their first CD of new studio material in a couple of years. The disc is mastered by Doug Sax, my favorite mastering engineer. The album starts out with a beautiful ballad "Gravity". Great song, really blows me away. This is the richest sounding AKUS CD that I have ever heard. Very warm, great use of stereo field, crisp and rich sounding stringed instruments.
The second song "Restless" is a masterpiece of a love song with some great background vocals and Alison really using the full range of her beautiful voice. "Goodbye is All We have" is a beauty of a slow song with Alison at her best, great dobro by Jerry Douglas. There are some nice subtle special effects which give the song a newgrass sound. "Union House Branch" is a great bluegrass instrumental. (Written by Jerry Douglas) Almost sounds like strings in the background, but it is just Alison and the way it is recorded. "Wouldn't Be So Bad" (Gillian Welch) is another great slow ballad. Some angelic toned lead guitar by Ron Block. Great dobro and violin. This disc is a combo of traditional bluegrass and more modern sounding newgrass. All great music though. "Pastures Of Plenty" has the sparse bluegrass sound with Dan singing a Woody Guthrie song. Real nice banjo by Ron. Creative bass by Barry. This really is some great tight material. Alison has the best road band and studio band there ever was and they are the same folks. Very unusual in the music world today. no hired guns needed here. "Crazy As Me"- this is a really interesting song, what a melodic masterpiece. This band cooks in an audiophile's dream. This is a real special song with the band taking some new musical directions that are just out of this world, creative, some nice syncopated rhythms going on with the guitars. "Borderline" is a more traditional AKUS production. This is where the CD title comes from. Great harmonies, honestly, many songs that I like better on this fifteen song CD. "My Poor Old Heart" is another traditional sounding bluegrass song. I must say ,incredible use of stereo field in the mix. Forget SACD, HDCD, just record a great CD and leave the rest to Doug Sax.
The sound quality of this album is incredible. "Doesn't Have To BE This Way" is another beautiful ballad, more sparsely produced, great lyrics. This is written by RI Castleman who wrote many of the best songs on this disc. Jerry Douglas sounds incredible as he does throughout the CD. "I Don't Have To Live This Way" sang and written by Ron Block is a nice change of pace, upbeat acoustic country with that high lonesome sound. "If I didn't Know Any Better (John Sherrill and Mindy Smith) This has an acoustic country touch and you can definitely hear Mindy Smith's sound in the song. Nice special effects, incredible, this song just is a blow away. The disc ends with "A Living Prayer" (Ron Block) a very beautiful gospel tune, very sparse, just Alison singing with Dan and Ron playing acoustic guitars. She really hits the top of her range here, this is just a great ,beautiful encouraging song. Great melody. In closing, I would have to say that this is Alison's best album yet. Just a great collection and I absolutely love nine out of the fifteen songs.
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