Alison Krauss

Live – 2002 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Alison Krauss

An Alison Krauss & Union Station concert is almost always a deeply satisfying experience - 90-plus minutes of high fidelity sound, superb musicianship and purposeful yet intimate presentation that can make a hall feel like a living room. For those who have been to one, it's probably enough to know that this two-disc set faithfully recreates a typical appearance.

Recorded with brilliant clarity by top engineer Gary Paczosa, the set offers only one song not previously recorded by the group or its members, Mike Settle's two-time country chart-topper (by Bill Anderson and Dolly Parton) "But You Know I Love You." Not surprisingly, it fits well with the rest of the program, which draws heavily on the more recent end of the band's decade-and-a-half repertoire and includes turns in the spotlight by Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski and Ron Block, all with recent solo albums of their own. What comes through clearly is the unmatched versatility of the ensemble, which includes AKUS bass player Barry Bales and guest drummer Larry Atamanuik. You can go through the set list and sort out the individual numbers into categories like "acoustic pop" and "traditional bluegrass," but to do so really misses the point.

The group brings the same sensibilities to each song, so that despite their variety, they follow one another in a well-paced rhythm that, though it comes from years of refinement, sounds effortless and intuitive. The result is arguably among one of the best live sets ever released.