Reviewed by Brian T. Atkinson
Adrienne Young is a passionate advocate of community gardening and supporting local farmers. That earthiness comes through in her music. Over the course of now three albums, Young - along with frequent songwriting partner Will Kimbrough and backing band Little Sadie - has offered up some of the freshest, most organic folk and bluegrass originals of the past decade.
Her sophomore effort, the seamless concept album "The Art of Virtue," offered a series of contemporary classics such as "Ella Arkansas," "Hills and Hollers" and "Wedding Ring." It's hard, but not impossible, to top. "I keep turning over in my mind/Did I get it right this time?" Young asks near the end of "Room to Grow." The answer: Yes. In a string of ever-improving successes, this elegant song cycle is Young's finest hour yet.
Glorious hoedowns like "In Between the Heartbeats" and the title track stand out, as do more gentle beauties such as "River and a Dirt Road" and "Givin' Up the Fight." The cover of Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris" is good for some hoots, too. But "Leaving It Behind" provides the deepest moments of transcendence. Equal parts heartache and gratitude, it is the purest, most affecting into-the-sunset declaration since Robert Earl Keen's largely overlooked masterwork "Let the Music Play." Timeless.