Alison Krause + Union Station: Live (Rounder)

Krauss and Union Station apparently never break strings.

Bluegrass fiddler par excellence Alison Krauss recently gifted her fans with a live double disc entitled, aptly enough, Live—and as gifts go, this one’s real gone. Less impishly, Live should delight those who missed the toast of neighboring Champaign when last she played St. Louis, in August 2002.

As usual, accompanying Krauss on the release is the ace quartet Union Station: bassist Barry Bales, guitarist and banjo player Ron Block, dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas, and vocalist, guitarist, and mandolin player Dan Tyminski. Larry Atamanuik—technically not a stationmaster—also provides percussion on 11 of the 25 tracks here.

Krauss and the band recorded all but one of those tracks at the Louisville Palace last April in support of their latest studio CD, New Favorite, which Rounder released in 2001 to much acclaim. Nevertheless, they don’t overemphasize that disc, opting instead to reprise little more than half of it (the haunting, understated title track and six others). The rest of Live in large part comprises what can be felicitously described as old favorites—namely, songs from the blockbuster soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and earlier Krauss offerings like the traditional instrumental “Cluck Old Hen” and the improbable cover of Bad Company’s “Oh, Atlanta”—all rendered with impeccable yet never immodest craft.

In that regard, one odd caveat seems needed: Krauss and Union Station apparently never break strings. That is, excepting audience huzzahs and minimal inter-song patter, this release, as a live recording, sounds almost too poised and polished to qualify as a plein-air depiction. Those looking for the vocal or instrumental imperfections that often electrify live releases should thus look elsewhere.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply