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Alison Krauss

LIVE (Rounder) • Alison Krauss & Union Station

They sing like angels and play like devils--these folks got it all goin on. Very rarely have I heard a live CD that was so flawless and still so fearlessly performed that it's difficult to believe it's live, but this is one of those records. These people sing and play this good in their sleep, and they're far from sleeping here.

Great crowd, too, in the breathtaking Louisville Palace--you can tell they're absolutely in love with the group. And what's not to love, they're right outta this world. Alison's not just a fantastic singer; she's a lovable one, to women and men alike. And her vocal counterpart, Dan Tyminski, grabbed the global brass ring last year with his rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow." They're not just making music, this group is making history.

I remember hiking one fine autumn day at Radnor Lake here in Nashville. I passed a bench on a bridge over a little creek. There was a young woman tying her shoe. I said hello, so as not to startle her. She looked up and smiled sweetly, and returned my greeting. I was surprised that it was Alison, and we spoke a minute about the weather, which was glorious. It reminded me of something Cocteau said about the artist not being capable of producing something that is not inside the person.

One can hardly say enough about the caliber of this outfit's musicianship. Jerry Douglas is universally recognized as the best dobro player on the planet, and he gets to burn at will in this band. Dan Tyminski is not only one of the best vocalists in bluegrass history, he's an excellent flat top guitar picker and mandolinist. Ron Block's banjo playing is beautiful and melodically inventive, a wonderful tone. Barry Bales is a fabulous pulse on acoustic bass, and sings superb low tenor and baritone vocals. Larry Atamanuik has long been one of Nashville's tastiest and toneful drummers, and from Sea Train to Emmylou's Nash Ramblers, he's a songwriter or acoustic specialist's dream.

The repertoire on this live CD is just as important and just as good as the performance. One of the standouts for me is the incredible Hugh Prestwood tune, "Ghost in this House," here's just the chorus:

I'm just a ghost in this house
I'm just a shadow upon these walls
as quietly as a mouse
I roam these halls
I'm just a whisper of smoke
I'm all that's left of two hearts on fire
That once burned out of control
You took my body and soul
I'm just a ghost in this house

This record's amazing. Do something nice for yourself or someone you love, buy it. • FG

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alisonkrauss.com          Tad Smith Bluegrass Photos

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