Lookout for Hope
Sugar Hill Records
by Allen Price
The Dobro is considered by some to be an instrument associated with either the palm trees of Hawaii or the weepy overtones of a country ballad. Countering this characterization is Jerry Douglas, whose artistry has not only risen above his peers, but has redefined the perceived limitations of his instrument. Life magazine called him "one of the ten best country musicians of all time." That would be both understating Douglas' prowess and failing to recognize his ability to move beyond the country genre.
Lookout for Hope offers one the chance to hear Douglas out front, playing tunes which show both his range as a musician and the range he has given the Dobro. There are soft ballads, classic rock, jazz and Appalachian music skillfully woven together. One flows naturally into another.
The title tune of the album is a ten minute jazz piece offers one a chance to hear just what the Dobro can do in the hands of Douglas. Written by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, Douglas plays it with the dual percussive mandolins of Sam Bush and Chris Thile (no drums), and also includes Bryan Sutton and Trey Anastasio (from Phish) on guitar. The album opens with "Little Martha", the Allman Brothers classic, soulfully drawing you in. Douglas gives this southern rock classic a new voice.
Every time Jerry Douglas gets involved in a new project, one wonders if he has finally hit the peak. On the contrary-- his musicality is always looking upward.