Lorelie L. from CLINTON, MA Reviewed on 10/24/2006...
Great artist and great album.
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Alison stays true to Her Artistic Vision
Mark J. Fowler | Okinawa, Japan | 06/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since Elvis began his famed recording career with a Rockabilly cover of Bluegrass Bossman Bill Monroe's signature "Blue Moon of Kentucky" Bluegrass has been regarded by *some* as the poor barefoot hayseed step-child of Country Music. Acoustic Guitars and Banjos and Fiddles were overwhelmed and swallowed up by Electric Guitars and Peddle Steel Guitars. A successful Bluegrass album sold maybe 30,000. The "dirty little secret" in Nashville was that the Bluegrass musicians were the ones who could really PLAY, so talented bluegrassers who wanted to make a decent living became Nashville studio musicians. Bluegrass fans, who are often as fanatical about the music as a religious zealot is about their religion, considered such musicians to have "sold out", and so it was that artists like Ricky Skaggs, Bill Keith, Marty Stuart and Vince Gill were considered. Once big fish in the small Bluegrass pond, they were thought by Bluegrass Purists to have compromised their artistic integrity to become Country successes. (Was it ironic that Ricky Skagg's first Country Hit was a "countrified" version of Lester Flatt's "Don't Get Above Your Raisin'?")The purpose of this review isn't to give even a thumbnail history lesson of the evolution of Bluegrass and a comparison to more popular and "mainstream" forms of music, but it is important in having a complete appreciation of this album to recognize the historical rarity of a "popular" or "breakout" Bluegrass artist or band or recording. In the past half-century before Alison Krauss the number of Bluegrass recordings which received any degree of popular airplay could be easily counted on one hand:
Flatt and Scruggs "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" - the music used as the musical theme to "Bonnie and Clyde".
Flatt and Scruggs "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" - the theme to "Beverly Hillbillies"
"Dueling Banjos" - from the soundtrack to "Deliverance"
"Rocky Top" - by the Osborne Brothers
"Fox on the Run" - by the Country GentlemenThen along came Alison Krauss, with her stunning crystalline voice that caught the attention of the Bluegrass community while she was still a teenager.She recorded several albums which were among the most well-received in the Bluegrass community leading up to 1995 when her label, Rounder, persuaded her to put together a few new recordings with mostly previous releases, some as "guest star" on other CDs to come up with the compilation "Now That I've Found You"(It may have been called "Greatest Hits" for an artist that had HAD a "hit").That CD stunned everyone, sold 6 million copies and suddenly Alison Krauss was the hottest female voice in Nashville - winning a handful of CMA awards.Under the expectations of THAT success Ms. Krauss and her band, Union Station, went to the studio to record the follow-up album.Many on either side of the "Bluegrass Purist" fence were expecting the next CD to be the "Sell-Out" CD - full of steel guitars and guest duets with Barbra Streisand.What came instead was THIS CD, "So Long So Wrong", an album that celebrates the Bluegrass heritage that these musicians hail from in addition to showcasing the extraordinary contemporary talents of Alison and Union Station.Newcomers to Bluegrass expecting a recording with nothing but Alison's voice were likely put out a little that some GUY was singing the lead vocal on several of these cuts. Alison knew that Dan Tyminsky was an extraordinary vocalist YEARS before Dan was chosen to do the singing voiceover for George Clooney in "O Brother Where Art Thou?"The CD is one of the prominent ones that Alison jokes about in which her lead vocals are predominantly on beautiful but sorrowful ballads like "Deeper Than Crying" and "Find My Way Back to my Heart." These tracks are beautiful and they're NOT "straight bluegrass" for you purists - Ron Block trades in his trusty 5-string for some tasty acoustic guitar work and these are closer to folk or even just "unplugged pop" than to bluegrass. The Dan Tyminski tracks are rollicking rip-roaring bluegrass monsters like "I'll Remember You, Love in my Prayers" and "The Road is a Lover".This CD is one of the very best by Alison Krauss and Union Station, and that is saying something. If you're a fan of Alison, or maybe you just heard something about "those musicians on the O Brother soundtrack" this is a recording you just have to add to your collection."
Gary Popovich | Chesterfield, VA USA | 09/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes an abundance of talent can be a curse - take Alison Kraus, for example. On one hand, she has bluegrass afficianados (like me) begging her not to give in to the lure of almost certain pop/country superstardom, while the rest of the world is screaming, "Get rid of those hayseeds!"I've already tipped my hand, so I will tell you that the bluegrass component of this album is about the best that can be heard in the genre's more contemporary incarnation. And while Alison is clearly the star, the boys in the band more than hold their own, both vocally and instumentally. Dan Tyminski is a terrific singer and guitarist - his voice blends superbly with Alison's on "Blue Trail of Sorrow" and particularly "The Road is a Lover," which also features some great train-like bowing from Alison. Banjoist Ron Block takes Scrugg-style picking to a higher level - his driving solo on the title track blows me away every time I hear it. And Adam Steffey's mandolin playing ranks among the best.What more can be said about Alison's voice? It's clear, emotive, and haunting. My only complaint about Alison these days is that she is growing less and less inclined to cut loose on the fiddle. I've read her statements of getting away from "flashy playing for its own sake," but she's far too talented on that instrument to let it collect too much dust.For those whom skip over the non-Alison tracks, or complain that the guys sing to much - Alison is following in the best tradition of the original bluegrass bossman himself, Mr.Bill Monroe, who handed over the reigns repeatedly to such (later) stars as Lester Flatt, Jimmy Martin, and Peter Rowan. Alison Kraus and Union Station is a BAND - and a damned fine one at that. I just hope that she doesn't follow the path of the late Keith Whitley, Marty Stuart, Dolly Parton, and Ricky Skaggs (although we got him back), forsaking bluegrass completely."
If This CD Cost $1,000, I'd Still Buy It
Rick Snyder | Virginia | 11/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I've gotten older, my musical tastes have broadened considerably. I would never even have given this CD a listen when it came out five years ago. Country? No thanks. Bluegrass? You're kidding right? My loss. This is a stunning collection of songs. The 'Revolver' of the bluegrass/country genres. Another 'Classic Rock' album get booted out my top 5 of all time and it will not be missed. In fact, this is a very strong contender for the number one slot. I still have no interest in country music. And traditional bluegrass doesn't excite me much either. But Alison Krauss and Union Station have taken the best elements of foot stomping rock and roll, pop, country and bluegrass and created something new and refreshingly unique. This is an incredible CD."
A+: Excellent Songs, Singing, Musicianship
T. Frantz | Grapevine, TX United States | 05/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like New Grass or folk, spirited American acoustic, banjo and fiddle, you'll like Alison Krauss. If you don't have anything by her yet, So Long So Wrong is the album to get. I've listened extensively to her albums, and I rate this one the best so far. Excellent selection of melodic numbers. She's never sung better. Her musicians are in very top form.An outstanding set."
A Complete CD
T. Frantz | 08/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are few pieces of music that really move me, reflect my mood. So Long, So Wrong has done just that. It has a musical flavor for everyone, to the mellow and beautiful "There is a Reason," to the mesmerisingly haunting "It Doesn't Matter," to the blazing fun of "Little Liza Jane" and "The Road Is A Lover." And do you know what the best part is? The band. Union Station has made an indelible mark on this album, and their perfection only accentuates this already great album. I was admittedly not a bluegrass fan before this album, but it was Alison Krauss and Union Station that made me one. While I have been a fan of Alison's for a while now, I can now say I am also a huge fan of the band as well."