Alison Krauss Essential Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Just about everything she's done in the last ten years has been essential.

Chris Jones 2009

There are some people round these parts who would laugh at the title of this new compilation. Why? Because just about everything the bluegrass sensation has done in the last ten years has been essential. Let's face it, you don't win 26 Grammys in as many years by being average. Alison Krauss, for those of you living in not-so-blissful ignorance, is one of those rare things. A person who can restore your faith in music. Let us list the ways...

Eleven albums into a performing career that began at the age of ten, Krauss is probably best known for her contributions to the soundtrack for O Brother Where Art Thou?. But since 1987 (with her band Union Station) she's been pushing back the boundaries of what bluegrass means in the States while opening up the genre to new audiences with a combination of angelic singing, fiery fiddle playing and, not least, working with some of the greatest musicians in the business.

Essential pulls together a generous helping of her choicest moments from the last decade. This includes work from her most successful Union Station albums such as New Favorite and Lonely Runs Both Ways as well as solo material. Primarily a superb interpreter of other people's material, she can often take a poppy swerve that, on paper, seems odd but works beautifully. For a prime example listen to her take on the Foundations' Baby Now That I've Found You or When You Say Nothing At All, which somehow avoids schmaltz.

And to top it all there's material from her recent collaboration with Robert Plant (Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us). The T Bone Burnett-produced album Raising Sand showed the world that, just when we thought she was most at home when backed by Dan Tyminski's guitar or Jerry Douglas' Dobro, she could also summon swampy blues or reinvent the Everly Brothers. Yes, she's very, very talented.

If you've never heard Krauss in action this is a fine place to begin. But as we said, it's all essential. Do yourself a favour...

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