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Alison Krauss leaves no choice

CitiWang, Boston, July 28, 2011

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Alison Krauss may have just turned 40 last weekend and been with the same label - Rounder - for 26 years. There may be something to be said for consistency and soldiering on with the familiar. The same could have been said about Krauss & Union Station's gig because once again it was another excellent night of bluegrass, country and sounds in between.

Krauss did not go for the tried and true at the start of the 110-minute show by playing the title track of her very fine new disc, "Paper Airplane" and the following Dust Bowl Children, a Peter Rowan song sung by acoustic guitarist Dan Tyminski. Since they are among the strongest songs on the disc, that proved to be a great way to start a show.

Krauss simply was blessed with a great voice. She never fails to deliver with the voce that can be best described as angelic sounding. It's pretty and beautiful and instills so much emotion into the songs. Krauss, of course, is adept at fiddle, but her voice is her calling card.

She certainly mixed it up throughout the night, playing songs from varying parts of her long career, including Every Time You Say Good Bye, Baby, Now That I've Found You and Down in the River to Pray from the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack. Krauss and company also did not shy away from "Paper Airplane," hitting 8 of the 11 songs.

As usual, Krauss also was not fearful of ceding face time to her long-time band members. Tyminski sang lead on about five songs, including his signature song A Man of Constant Sorrow, and was a very strong vocalist as well. Acoustic guitarist/banjo player Ron Block took over vocals on one song.

Jerry Douglas has been recognized as one of the greatest Dobro players in the world, and he showed why, once again, on this evening. In fact, his approximately 10-minute long stint in the spotlight playing solo, may have reenergized the concert Douglas plays with lyricism and made his instrument come alive again and again. The crowd apparently thought so too because they extended him a well-deserved standing o.

Krauss may have started out her musical life as a bluegrasser, but she's not exactly that these days - at least purists would highly question that. A drummer and keyboardist rounded out the line-up on several songs, giving a fuller sound to the songs.

Krauss always brings her warm personality to the stage, and tonight was no different. She easily joked with band members, sometimes at their expense. She chided Block, for example, for being the only member of the band not to go to the Red Sox game this afternoon. He blamed his niece, who lives in these parts, for taking him away from the game. You can rest assured that Krauss is not a performer given to the same lines night after night, making for a freshness to each night.

Krauss showed that bigger was not always better when it came to the business side of her music. After all, she could have easily left her home label, but obviously chose to stick with the tried and true. On the musical side, Krauss has no choice - a big voice and excellent sidekicks willing to step to the fore always will work wonders.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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