DRAMA QUEEN Judith Edelman
What a wonderful surprise this record was to me. This is the brainiest bluegrass I've ever heard, and a fascinating songwriter. Judith is from NYC originally, a Swarthmore alumnus and daughter of a Nobel Prize winner. Needless to say, that's an unusual bluegrass pedigree. In recent decades, the envelope of that genre has been stretched further than most others, to include great artists of many dimensions.
Judith's singing voice is a sweet soprano that calls Alison Krause to mind, but her subject matter is darker and deeper, and speaks to a life rich in experience. For instance, before becoming a professional musician, she pursued a career in Third World development in Kenya and Zimbabwe, where she contracted a serious illness that brought her back home. While recuperating, she was turned on to the Stanley Brothers and other acts that led her to the study of bluegrass guitar, which she plays very well on this record. Her husband and co-producer Matt Flinner is an excellent mandolinist and singer, and they tour together widely with other bluegrass greats.
Not too many bluegrass CDs in your collection, are there? Do yourself a favor and add this one. Like me, I think you'll soon be looking to add her previous releases, Perfect World ('95) and Only Sun ('98), alongside this inspiring record. All three are available from the fine Nashville label Compass Records. A real findthanks to fiddler friend Rena Rubin of NYC for turning me on to this superb artist. FG