After several years hiatus from recording with Union Station, Alison Krauss returns with panache to release her 14th project, Paper Airplane. But it isn't all about Alison, as the project gives wide berth to feature Union Station's collection of very accomplished musicians Dan Tyminski, Ron Block, Barry Bales and Jerry Douglas.
One of the keys to Alison's success has been her talent of selecting ballads that suit her sensibilities and range of vocals. Lyrically, she finds tunes with heartfelt messages. Paper Airplane continues her formula for success. On first blush, some might feel that Paper Airplane is simply more of the same for which Alison is best known, but there is a depth and richness here that blossoms as you listen more intently.
The CD leads with a classic Alison ballad on the title cut Paper Airplane. Yet, to me, the more haunting ballad on the project is written by Lori McKenna. The lyrics of My Love Follows You Where you Go tugs at your heart strings; particularly the chorus line "I won't pretend that it's not killing me watching you walk away slow." The lyrics are under pinned by Ron Block's banjo carrying the sad, yet sweet melody throughout the piece and then ending with Jerry Douglas' ethereal dobro leaving you wanting more. The arrangement of this particular tune is most compelling.
Miles to Go, co-written by Barry Bales and Chris Stapleton, seems inspired specifically for Alison and Union Station. It allows Alison to stretch her vocal range with complex storied lyrics. The pain of recognizing the failure of a relationship is felt deeply in the singing of Sinking Stone, written by Jeremy Lister.
Tyminski's mournful high lonesome vocals expertly belt out three of the project's pieces. Peter Rowan's Dust Bowl Children has a dark feel in its anguished cry for mankind's primal spirituality toward the earth. Tim O'Brien's On the Outside Looking In is the second traditional bluegrass arrangement featuring Tyminski. It speaks of a troubled relationship, a common theme in bluegrass. Bonita and Bill Butler by Sidney Cox completes the Tyminski trio. Tyminski shines in each of these with chilling traditional bluegrass vocals for which he is best suited.
Throughout the project, as is common in Bluegrass, each member of Union Station is passed lead breaks allowing them to shine on their own while during Alison's vocals each instrument stands down in a well arranged supportive role without trampling on her powerful, yet sweet soprano voice. Mike Shipley and Bran Blackford have masterfully mixed and mastered the final project. Each piece features clean, clear and crisp sound which is pleasing the to listener's senses. Once again Alison Krauss and Union Station proves why they remain one of the genre's favored bands.
|Project Title:||Paper Airplane|
|:||Alison Krauss & Union Station|
|Released:||2011 Rounder Records|
|Produced by:||Alison Krauss and Union Station|
|Recorded and Mixed:||MikeShipley|
|Mastered:||Bran Blackford at Euphonic Masters, Memphis, TN|
|Record Label:||Rounder Records|
|Paper Airplane||(Robert Lee Castleman, Farm Use Only, BMI)|
|Dust Bowl Children||(Peter Rowan - Sea Lion Music, BMI)|
|Lie Awake||(Angel Snow/Victor Krauss Emmett Till Publishing, ASCAP/Split Window Music, BMI)|
|Lay My Burden Down||(Aoife O'Donovan - Cosmic Seed Music, ASCAP)|
|My Love Follows You Where You Go||(Lori McKenna/Barry Dean/Liz Rose - Barrytones, BMI/Universal Music Careers , BMI/Wagnerville Music, BMI)|
|Dimming of the Day||(Richard Thompson - Beeswing Music, BMI)|
|On the Outside Looking||(Tim O'Brien - Howdy Skyes Music c/o Bash Music, ASCAP)|
|Miles to Go||(Barry Bales/Chris Stapleton- Quackshead Music, BMI/House of Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP, New South Miner Songs, ASCAP)|
|Sinking Stone||(Jeremy Lister - Jeremy Lister Music c/o WB Music Corp, ASCAP)|
|Bonita and Bill Butler||(Sidney Cox -Third Row Music, BMI)|
|My Opening Fairwell||(Jackson Browne - Criterion Music Corp, ASCAP/Open Window Music, ASCAP)|
Barry Bales – Acoustic Bass and Harmony Vocals
Jerry Douglas – Dobro, Lap Steel and harmony vocals
Ron Block – Banjo and Guitar
Dan Tyminski - Guitar, Mandolin, Lead and Harmony Vocals
Alison Krauss – Fiddle, Lead and Harmony Vocals
Photos by: Randy St. Nicholas
This CD was provided to me to review at no cost from Rounder Records