Forget About It
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
A new CD by Alison Krauss is always a big event. She has reached the sort of status that makes us all listen up, whether we give her music a closer inspection afterwards or not. And she definitely deserves that position by virtue of the music she has created so far.
Her latest record shows her moving even closer to the mainstream than ever before. Although there are a lot of famous names mentioned in the booklet, from Jerry Douglas and Dolly Parton to Lyle Lovett, one thing seems to be perfectly clear from the very first song: this is Alison Krauss' music and her music only. It's not only the fact that Krauss is also the producer here that proves that she's the one in charge. Musicians come and go, and the writers of the songs may change, but still Alison Krauss seems to be able to create exactly the kind of music she has in mind. Furthermore, she seems to be following a carefully planned agenda - an agenda with the word perfection written all over it, in tall letters.
This time Krauss has chosen songs by Michael McDonald and Todd Rundgren, among others, which clearly move her more towards pop, even if she still manages to draw all of these songs into her own version of soft-spoken bluegrass and country. Still, she is only half a step away from pop. This would be the perfect music for a perfect world; a world without harsh words, where people keep looking at the bright side of life even when they are sort of miserable. It's too bad that reality also has an agenda of its own. This is why I think that something is missing here, not something big, but something that could have been quite easily remedied. In my opinion Alison Krauss should have included one or two uptempo numbers, and in this way she would have strayed a bit from her path, but in the end she would have been closer to her aim of the perfect record. I think there is no such thing as true perfection, but in order to get as close as possible, one has to include several, if not all aspects of life - for the balance of life, and for the balance of music.
If you're happy twenty-four hours a day and you can't keep from smiling, then this CD is made for you. For the rest of us, sad bunch that we are, this still bears many marks of a beautiful record.
My humble advice for Alison Krauss would be to let the horses run free from time to time, but to keep clear from the mainstream, for its waters are muddy and treacherous, and have cost us too many precious talents already. And I'd really hate to see someone with talent in abundance, like Alison Krauss, get lost in the syrupy waves of the ever- engulfing rivers of Nashville.
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Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz